Mind-blowing fun at UConn Hillel 


Starting off the year with a barbecue on Sunday, Aug. 27, UConn Hillel has consistently put on events during the first week of the semester. On Thursday, Aug. 31, the latest fantastic event put on by the organization featured hypnotist Jim Spinnato. The event was free and open to all students. 

The energy in Hillel’s main room was electric and all eyes were on Spinnato, who was rapidly dispensing hilarious jokes and hoped those in attendance would say to themselves, “Holy shit, that old, fat guy was fun!” 

The Hillel building was ideal for Spinnato’s performance with a full sound setup, plenty of chairs and a wide walking space between seating areas. Spinnato took full use of the space to enhance his performance. 

Starting with 17 volunteers, Spinnato began conducting his routine of entrancing his volunteers. The process involved having the participants close their eyes and imagine holding a 500-pound bowling ball, or standing on a narrow wooden plank.  

These exercises gradually culminated in several volunteers falling asleep at Spinnato’s request. Those in the audience could hardly contain their laughter as fellow students and friends were suddenly sound asleep in their chairs. 

It only became more exciting from there. Upon having the participants wake up, Spinnato suggested to them that the person sitting nearest to them smelled horrible. The audience went crazy as one participant said, “Someone needs a bidet!” 

Soon after, Spinnato started utilizing the sound equipment to have his hypnotized participants take a motorcycle ride. Intense rock and roll blasted as the participants waved to passersby and even scoffed at slow pedestrians. Spinnato himself couldn’t help but laugh as the situation progressed. 

He hypnotized participants to feel wedgies, laugh at simply stating their last name and even come up with their own super hero personas — including poses! 

As the show went on, some participants awoke from their hypnotism, but those who remained went on to elevate the fun even further.  

Spinnato had the participants read a children’s book featuring Elmo. Those under his hypnosis were convinced to read the book aloud and eagerly await each story as if they were in elementary school. Needless to say, those in attendance could not contain their laughter. 

But it doesn’t stop there. Soon the participants were rapping out the Elmo book or even reading it in Martian. One participant was hypnotized into reading the story in a dialect that nobody could understand, except perhaps Martians. 

With energy levels at an all-time high following the children’s book craziness, Spinnato pulled out one final incredible work of hypnotism. Participants belly danced, held a fashion show, flexed their muscles and even did an Irish jig!  

Spinnato was able to transform ordinary students into incredible dancers, motorcyclists, singers and so much more. 

“I asked how they learned those belly dances, and they had no clue!” said Jessica Nirschel, a fifth-semester communications major.  

“It was very entertaining. I smiled a lot, I smiled till my cheeks hurt,” said Nia, a fifth-semester landscaping architecture major. Nia — like many others — went home with sore cheeks due to a long night of smiles and laughter. 

This is just a glimpse of the fun that can be had at UConn Hillel. The organization is welcoming to students from any background, and more events are already being announced. Be on the lookout for updates on Hillel’s Instagram page @uconnhillel, and check out their apple-picking event coming up on Sept. 10! 

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