CLIP Participants Showcase "Pluralism in Action"
August 15, 2005Comments (0)
| E-mail this to a friend By Alix Fellman
Forty New York-area college students got a hands-on introduction to Jewish communal life -- and learned more about themselves in the process. The students were part in this year's Collegiate Leadership Internship Program (CLIP), where they spent the past nine weeks interning at for-profit, non-profit, and Jewish professional organizations in and around New York City, as well as attending weekly leadership seminars.
CLIP, run by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life with partners UJA-Federation of New York and FEGS - Health and Human Services System, offers a competitive, paid, summer internship experience. The program aims to help students develop practical professional skills, learn about the North American and New York Jewish communities and make valuable connections between what students are able to do on college campuses and what they will be able to do as future Jewish communal leaders.
This connection between college and professional life is one of the most important benefits that CLIP Coordinator Matt Vogel sees in the program.
"One of the great things about CLIP is that it is really aligned with Hillel's new mission statement – to enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world," Vogel said. "I think that the interns can take what they learned in their work, the seminars and from each other and take it back to school to enhance and improve Jewish life on campus.
"The most positive aspect was that I was able to see pluralism in action. There were Orthodox students talking and learning from Reform students and traditionally raised students talking to secular or unaffiliated students. They were able move beyond barriers to talk and connect as people."
Pluralism was indeed an essential part of the experience. The participants either live or go to school in the New York area and come from backgrounds of Reform, Conservative, Orthodox or nondenominational Judaism.
"I had this mentality that I am looked down upon when I talk to Orthodox people," said Amanda Graber, a sophomore at Hofstra University who interned at UFA-Federation of New York. "This summer really opened my eyes to the fact that Orthodox people and I had so much in common, and they were so personable, and to tell them that I was Reform and they still wanted to be friends with me – it really opened my eyes."
Students' eyes were also opened to the wealth of Jewish organizations that exist in New York and in North America. Interns had the opportunity to work at Jewish non-profit and for-profit organizations alike, organizations as large as FEGS or United Jewish Communities, or as small as Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.
Some students had the opportunity to work outside of the professional Jewish world. Brian Levenson, a senior at Syracuse University, spent the summer interning at Newmark and Company Real Estate.
"For me, personally, I liked how it was separate," said Levenson, referring to his Jewish and professional experiences. "I know that a lot of times in the work force I won't necessarily be in the Jewish community, but I'm still Jewish - even though I'd be working, I could still do Jewish stuff."
After this year's success, Vogel knows the program can only improve. In addition to restructuring the weekly seminar days and developing a strong alumni network, there are plans to increase the number of placement agencies, specifically those that are for-profit.
"The goal is to expand but maintain the quality of the placements and overall experience," Vogel said. "We're really taking it to the next level in the coming year."
Collegiate Leadership Internship Program
Alix Fellman is a junior at New York University and a 2005 CLIP intern.