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As freshman Alan Kotlyar was moving into Gal­loway Res­i­dence, he over­heard a con­ver­sation that res­onated with him.

“I opened the door to see a dark-haired, bearded, tall, cheerful guy whose parents men­tioned some­thing about Israel as they were talking to each other,” Kotlyar said in an email.

It was freshman Alex Pack with his parents. Like Kotlyar, Pack is Jewish, and he knew another Jewish freshman in Gal­loway. Shortly, they had found three others to reac­tivate Hillsdale Chavarah, the Jewish Club, because they wanted to con­tinue their tra­di­tions throughout the school year and provide a place for Jews to inform non-Jews about their faith.

“I could not believe I had found two freshmen Jews already, and I knew we had to start some­thing,” Kotlyar said. “We wasted no time. Our first Shabbat was the first Friday of the school year.”

Along with freshmen Sara Garfinkle and Nathaniel Turtel and junior David Schwartzman, the club’s lead­ership holds Shabbat ser­vices Fridays at 7 p.m. Service includes scripture reading and songs in Hebrew, accom­panied by a violin and ukulele.

Garfinkle said for them, it was about com­munity. She said they want to practice their faith alongside each other.

At its first service, 18 stu­dents attended. Those involved come from various back­grounds. Kotlyar and Schwartzmann are first gen­er­ation Amer­icans, whose parents immi­grated from the Soviet Union. Garfinkle has taught Hebrew school in Cal­i­fornia and is an advocate for American-Israeli rela­tions. Pack is part of the Wash­ington Hebrew Con­gre­gation in Wash­ington, D.C.

But the club is hoping to reach non-Jewish stu­dents, as well, Kotlyar said. Last month, it held a viewing of the movie “Fiddler on the Roof” because it pre­sented Jewish culture well, Kotlyar said.

Even­tually, the stu­dents said they hope to hold a Passover Seder in the Searle Center with their peers. But for now, they said they are happy to be a part of the com­munity.

“It was a group effort,” Pack said. “We found each other.”