Tzvi Raviv of Orange County Hillel and Nati Sperber of Hillel in Uruguay.
The Jewish Agency for Israel has named two Hillel professionals as its 2009 “Shlichim Mitztaynim,” outstanding emissaries, for their work on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. The honorees are Orange County Hillel Israel Fellow Tzvi Raviv and Nati Sperber, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) shlicha (emissary) to Hillel in Uruguay. Both recipients have gone beyond the narrow requirements of their job descriptions to promote a positive image of the Jewish community on campus and beyond.
Nati Sperber has succeeded in creating new partnerships among Jewish agencies throughout Uruguay, explains Fabián Schamis, the executive director of Hillel in Uruguay. “Nati started to work on a one-by-one basis and after just a few months, Hillel was well known by the entire Jewish community in Uruguay as ‘the place’ for the university students,” Schamis says. “She became the engine of every activity in Uruguay related to Israel. We can proudly say that we tripled the number of activities related to Israel at Hillel and many of her programs are considered the best programs, not only of Hillel, but in the entire community.”
Schamis praises Sperber for her incredible work ethic and approachability. “Students know that the best person in the country to speak to about things related to Israel, their possible aliyah, or just regular issues, is Nati.”
Tzvi Raviv has also become a leading figure in his community. “Walking through campus with Tzvi is like escorting a celebrity,” says his supervisor, UC Irvine Executive Director Jordan Fruchtman. “Tzvi has made it cool to love Israel on campus at UC Irvine. Without fail, each time we are at UC Irvine, there are students shouting his name and running up to him. They want to get his advice on a student-led Israel advocacy retreat, or their latest campaign to derail the anti-Israel agenda, or maybe just for some help on their Hebrew homework. He has created meaningful connections with over 100 students, and, for many of them, their connection to Judaism and Israel is formed through their relationship with our outstanding shaliach.”
Raviv is the first Jewish Agency for Israel fellow on a campus that was known as a hotbed of anti-Israel activity. “During his tenure, Tzvi has been able to shift the focus from an anti-Israel campus, to a campus that trains and supports the nation’s top student Israel advocates,” says Fruchtman.
In addition, Raviv has raised nearly $50,000 during his two years with Hillel. He has trained students in program development, fundraising, grant writing, and community outreach.