Hillel Honors Professionals for Contributions to History and Future
December 23, 2008Comments (0)
| E-mail this to a friendThree remarkable educators were honored with Hillel's 85th Anniversary Alumni Award at the organization's Professional Staff Conference in Baltimore. The honorees are Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, program director for Jewish Life and Values at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Rabbi Max Ticktin, a faculty member at George Washington University, and Rhoda Weisman, founding executive director of the Professional Leaders Project.
Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone described the individuals as "giants who contributed to the growth of Hillel and continue to shape the Jewish world today." Hillel was founded in 1923 and is celebrating its 85th anniversary throughout the year.
PHOTO: Max W. Orenstein / Hillel
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn served as Associate Jewish Chaplain of Hillel at Columbia University and Barnard College from 1997 to 2004. Through her teaching, pastoral counseling, program development, and community building, she served as a religious leader for thousands of students, faculty, and community members.
While working at Columbia/Barnard she took a fledgling concept called Tzedek Hillel and turned it into a reality on her campus. In doing so, Columbia/Barnard Hillel became a leader of the national Tzedek Hillel movement and a precursor to all the tzedek work Hillel has done since.
Rabbi Rosenn continues to pursue social justice as Program Director for Jewish Life and Values at the Nathan Cummings Foundation where she helps to support myriad programs that combine Jewish values and social justice. She is a consultant to organizations seeking to engage Jewish young people in service and activism. She has also taught widely in the Jewish community on issues of Judaism and social justice and the relationship between activism and spirituality.
She has worked in congregations and campus communities, as a chaplain at NYU Medical Center and the Momentum AIDS Project, and at the Reform movement's Commission on Social Action. A founding board member of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, she has recently served on the board of New York Jobs with Justice, the advisory boards of Shma and the Jewish Coalition for Service, and the rabbinic boards of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and the New Israel Fund.
"Professionally and personally, Jennie embodies tikkun olam, repairing the world," said Firestone.
Rabbi Max Ticktin
Rabbi Max Ticktin is a towering figure in Hillel, one of the most influential and beloved Hillel professionals of his generation. He was at the center of every aspect of Hillel life in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
Max was trained as a Conservative Rabbi and entered work with Hillel following his involvement in Israel’s War for Independence in 1948 and graduation from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Max was the Hillel director at the University of Wisconsin from 1950 to 1964. Subsequently he served as the Hillel director at the University of Chicago from 1964 until at least 1970.
Max was the “dean” of Hillel directors during his years in the field. Recognizing his gifts, in 1970 Hillel brought him to Washington so that he could have a more formal role in shaping the Hillel movement. As the Assistant Director of National Hillel for more than a decade Rabbi Ticktin recruited and helped train and guide a generation of Hillel directors. He took the lead at staff conferences, the Summer Institute, and worked with training and evaluations.
While at the University of Chicago Max created the “Upstairs Minyan” which became a model for the emerging Havurah Movement. After moving to Washington D.C. he helped found and is still involved with Farbrengen, a similar group.
At both the University of Chicago and other places Rabbi Ticktin forged the path of social justice and activism on campus. He was personally involved and was seriously attacked by people outside of Hillel for his engagement on issues such as a woman’s right to choose and peace in the Middle East.
One of the rabbi's admirers said that his influence "comes from his gregarious and caring personality as well as from an approach to Jewish life that is Hillel at its best: He has a true respect for all Jews and an appreciation for the richness and variety of Jewish life and civilization. He is a spiritual person who reflects a sense of the divine in his life and in his relationships."
Rabbi Ticktin Max has continued to touch the lives of Jewish students since leaving Hillel for a career on the faculty at George Washington University.
Rhoda Weisman got her start with Hillel but today she is one of the most respected professionals in the Jewish world, a woman with an international reputation for energy, creativity, passion and accomplishment.
As Chief Creative Officer at Hillel from 1994-2004, Weisman pioneered a succession of innovative programs that became the foundation of the Hillel renaissance. She created the Tzedek Hillel program that integrated social justice into Hillel and paved the way for alternative break programs that bring students to locations in need of repair such as the Gulf Coast.
She created the Campus Leadership Initiative to find and train Jewish student leaders outside the traditional Hillel board structure, a predecessor to HIllel's Campus Entrpreneurs Initiative. She played a major roll in the creation and implementation of Hillel’s Taglit-Birthright Israel program. And she was the founding director of the Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps program.
"The JCSC program was the long-awaited realization of Hillel’s mission," said Firestone. "From the very beginning of this organization, Hillel professionals sought a way to meaningfully connect with the large majority of undergraduate students who would never step foot in a Hillel. With her creativity, professionalism and boundless energy, Rhoda worked with a talented group of collaborators to turn a mission into a strategy, a strategy into a movement, and a movement into a phenomenon. By putting engagement at the forefront of our work, Rhoda changed Hillel forever."
The JCSC program engaged tens of thousands of Jewish undergraduates and launched the careers of thousands of young professionals. Rhoda continues this important work of engagement in a new venue as the founding executive director of the Professional Leaders Project which is finding critical young talent for the Jewish community.