By Stephanie Burton
If Kelly Clarkson has been an "American Idol" success story, Campus SuperStar has been the ongoing success story for both Indiana University Hillel and the Hillels of Georgia. For the second year at Indiana and the third at Georgia, these two Hillels have managed to create a community-wide vibe of enthusiasm—bringing Jewish and non-Jewish students together in an exciting, three-round singing competition.
Indiana University Hillel crowned Codi Fosdick, a second-year graduate student in vocal performance from Spring, Texas, as its 2006 winner last week. Fosdick won $5,000, professional recording studio time and the opportunity to sing the national anthem at an Indianapolis Indians game. In Georgia, Darryl Willie, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, came away with $5,000 and the opportunity to be seen by top New York recording producers.
Campus SuperStar's success, however, is measured far beyond the prize winners. Hillels of Georgia Executive Director Jacob Schreiber described the event as a wonderful way to spread interest in Hillel. Since Campus SuperStar began in Georgia in 2004, the number of students participating in Hillel events has increased dramatically. About 1,600 students were involved in at least one Hillel program before the singing competition started, but so far this year, more than 2,500 students have taken part in a part in a Hillel program, according to Schreiber.
Indiana University Hillel Assistant Director Andy Gitelson noted that Campus SuperStar has been an incredible way of bridging multiple gaps—gaps that exist among Jewish students at the different Indiana universities, between the Jewish university students and the greater Indiana Jewish community, and among those involved in Hillel on campus and those who are not Jewish or simply not interested in Hillel.
"Indiana University is very fortunate to have an active and engaging Hillel center to address the religious needs of our Jewish students and to be a cultural presence for the education of our larger campus community," said Dick McKaig, vice chancellor and dean of students at Indiana University.
In addition to the excitement Campus SuperStar creates for the sponsoring Hillels, this singing competition has made a monumental difference in each organization's financial health. Because of the thousands of dollars earned from this event – Indiana University Hillel alone netted $75,000, up from $40,000 a year ago – Indiana University Hillel and Hillels of Georgia are able to boost compensation for their professionals, create better programs and provide scholarships to students.
"Campus SuperStar has changed the face of our Hillels over the past three years," Schreiber said. "I know we'll be doing it again next year."
Stephanie Burton is a senior at The George Washington University and an intern in Hillel's communications department.