October 24, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

Michael Kimmel speaks to UMass students about ‘Guyland’ -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

UMass football looks for third straight win against Toledo on Saturday -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

‘Love is Strange’ is beautiful, painful and groundbreaking -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

White supremacy and settler colonialism at UMass -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

UMass hockey hopes first win will propel them past Hockey East rivals -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

UMass’ second line playing and succeeding with young talent early in the season. -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

‘The Good Wife’ returns as strong as ever -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Professor receives grant to cover massive election survey panel -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Unions rally over recent concession proposals -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

NFL Pick’em games return to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

UMass celebrates Campus Sustainability Day -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

“Fury” falls just short of greatness -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Minutewomen look to continue their season in weekend game against Saint Bonaventure. -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New meal plans receive mixed reviews from students -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ISIS’s magazine is good for the West -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

UMass women’s soccer controls its own destiny as conference tournament approaches -

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

UMass soccer deploys new formation with Keys, Jess -

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

UMass calling on young swimmers to continue strong start to the year -

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WMU, Ohio, NIU pick up wins in busy MAC weekend -

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A comprehensive guide to the Ebola virus -

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Family, friends remember UMass student James ‘Jake’ Hoffman

Courtesy of Matt Dornfeld

It is his contagious smile and charismatic personality that many who knew James “Jake” Hoffman, the 21-year-old University of Massachusetts student who died in the Jan. 21 fire at Rolling Green Apartments, remember first.

“He had the biggest smile. As soon as he walked into the room, he made everyone a little bit happier,” said friend Jay Palermo.

“(I’ve) never seen a kid so happy,” friend Seth Rotberg said.

Friend Kyle Wayne Brown described Hoffman, who was a senior studying hospitality and tourism management, as “outgoing,” and a person who “talked to everybody (and) everybody knew who he was.”

Hoffman, who was born on May 31, 1991, and raised in Stoughton, died in the fire that started on the second floor of his Rolling Green apartment. The blaze displaced about 30 residents, including about 20 UMass students. Hoffman’s two housemates safely escaped the blaze.

Officials have not yet released a cause for the fire.

A Jan. 22 vigil at Hillel House first brought together members from the UMass community who knew Hoffman. Matt Dornfeld was among those speaking at the dimly lit gathering and described the week following Hoffman’s death as “the fastest seven days” he has ever experienced.

“He made you feel like religion wasn’t a barrier,” Dornfeld said in his nine-minute speech. He noted that while Hoffman was not Jewish, he dedicated himself to the Jewish faith and culture.

According to his sister Nichole Hoffman, Hoffman “was supposed to meet with a rabbi a week after (the death) to see what it takes to convert to Judaism.”

Hoffman was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Stoughton wearing a Students Alliance for Israel headband that read “SAFI swag” along with a miniature Israeli flag.

A traditional Christian ceremony took place Jan. 26 at St. James Church in Stoughton following the second-largest wake ever held at Farley Funeral Home the evening before.

Nichole Hoffman said guests coming to pay spielautomaten respects at the wake – which included Dean of Students Enku Gelaye and Isenberg School of Management Dean Mark Fuller –  waited anywhere from two to five hours in the snow. The wake was supposed to run from 3 to 7 p.m., but was instead extended until midnight due to the crowd.

About 900 people attended the funeral, subsequently closing a street adjacent to the church and resulting in standing-room only for many in attendance, she said.

“It all just whirled by, that entire week,” she said. “It felt amazing to see how many people knew my brother, but no one will know him like I know him.”
She described the relationship between the Hoffman siblings – she, Jake and Riordan, the youngest – as “different than a lot of other siblings” because they “told each other everything.

“Love was just a big thing, and family – you never hurt your brother and sister,” she said.

“We weren’t just brother and sister, we were best friends in the whole entire world,” she added of Hoffman. “I’ll never say I have one brother. I don’t, I have two. One is here presently and the other is (my guardian angel).”

According to friends, this year Hoffman elevated his involvement and grades in school from a “disaster” of a junior year, when he would often skip class.

“I was fortunate to be part of that journey,” Dornfeld said, adding that Hoffman “turned it on” senior year, turning himself and his grades around.

At UMass, Hoffman was vice president of the Jewish Student Union. He was also involved with MESIBA team and the Club Managers Association of America.

“This past year he was super involved, did everything he could,” Brown, who met Hoffman this past fall as part of the Jewish Student Union, said. “He was interested in a lot and wanted to learn everything he possibly could … he was down to do new things constantly.”

Through these organizations and the six major events he helped run this year, including MESIBA’s popular “A Night in Tel Aviv,” Hoffman made dozens of connections and friends.

“He had friends in all different places,” Brown said.

“He was never by himself, he loved to be with people,” Palermo said, adding that Hoffman loved to dance in front of others and have a fun time wherever he went. “He was just kind of a crowd pleaser … one of the most personable people.”

Dornfeld said Hoffman was the “life of the party” and “thrived off of social engagement.”

Hoffman was also an avid sports fan and especially enjoyed playing FIFA soccer video games with his friends. He received a PlayStation 3 this past Christmas with hopes of beating close rivals in friendly competition.

Rotberg, who met Hoffman last spring through mutual friends, is currently trying to organize memorials for him. He’s lobbying to have a chair left open at graduation in honor of Hoffman, in addition to procuring a University diploma for his family. Rotberg said he is also trying to start up a scholarship in Hoffman’s name for hospitality and tourism management majors at UMass.

“You can’t look at the past. You’ve got to look at the future and live through him and not take anything for granted,” Rotberg said. “He was such a big part of my life, and influential. He’s always going to be with me.”

Hoffman was a 2009 graduate of Stoughton High School, where he was a member of the soccer team – he served as its captain his senior year. He was voted “Mr. Stoughton High” in his senior superlative.

In addition to his older sister and younger brother, he is survived by his parents Anne and David Hoffman, of Stoughton. He is also survived by many extended family members, including over 30 cousins.

Chelsie Field can be reached at cfield@student.umass.edu

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