On December 10, Hillel Latin America said an official Bienvenidos! to its latest addition: Hillel Norte (North Hillel), the newest Hillel center in Buenos Aires.
Hillel Norte serves the Jewish student and young adult community in the northern Buenos Aires suburb of Olivos — a community too far from the city center for most students to join activities at Buenos Aires's two downtown Hillel locations. The opening of this new center, the third in the Buenos Aires area and the fourth in Argentina, reflects the growing impact of Hillel across Argentina.
"The opening of Hillel Norte represents a new challenge in the expansion of Hillel Argentina," said Javier Kizlansky, Hillel Argentina board chair and one of the key drivers behind the Hillel Norte initiative. "In areas of our country where hundreds of Jewish youngsters live without any specific Jewish framework, Hillel is increasingly providing a central address."
Hillel Norte was launched in June in partnership with Olivos's Lamroth Hakol community and is the result of Hillel Argentina's new Hillel Argentina Net Program, which seeks to work with communities outside the reach of the four established Argentine Hillels.
While the December launch marked the opening of Hillel Norte's building, the initiative has been active since July under the leadership of coordinator Daina Slipak.
Slipak has worked with the student community to hold programs ranging from art exhibits to business clubs to text studies, and has been amazed by the students and by what she herself has gained from the experience.
"The opening of Hillel Norte feeds my soul," says Slipak. "To contribute to the creation of the new branch, to work with these incredible students, to see the local support from my community — it makes me feel proud and gives me hope to continue to dream toward the continuity of the Jewish people."
The December 10th opening ceremony featured speeches by local lay leaders and community partners, a ribbon-cutting, and the hanging of the mezuzah by Hillel Argentina Board President and Hillel International Board of Governor Eduardo Elsztain. Two days later, over 200 young people gathered for the students' opening party of music, dancing, and a barbeque.
"The opening of Hillel Norte is an incredible accomplishment for Hillel Argentina," said Hillel Latin America Director Gabriel Trajtenberg. "The hundreds of students we saw at the opening party were missing their Jewish home away from home. Now they've found it in Hillel Norte."