Posted by: Wayne L. Firestone, President on 9/11/2007 3:53:00 PM
Rosh Hashanah coincides with the start of the school year for good reason: With the busy summer agricultural season over, this is the time of year traditionally to turn inward, to give thanks, and to renew ourselves spiritually and intellectually. Hillels are off to a great start.
I enjoyed speaking with Hillel directors in a series of recent conference calls. They shared some of their recent accomplishments and their plans for the coming year. Cornell Hillel hosted over 1000 students at its welcome back Shabbat dinner. Welcome back Shabbat at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., exceeded the building’s capacity. A new Hillel house was opened in Ottawa. UW Madison is celebrating the creation of kosher dining. Brooklyn College Hillel capped a summer leadership training program with a retreat in the Pocono Mountains. And at Harvard, Jewish alumni will not have to choose between football and Kol Nidre: The university changed the date of its game against Brown to avoid conflict with Yom Kippur.
While our campuses are preparing to welcome tens of thousands of students to High Holy Day services, they are simultaneously recruiting participants for Taglit-birthright israel. Hillel launched a major recruitment campaign with posters, postcards and ping pong balls. Camels of all shapes, colors and sizes have been seen walking the streets and campuses of North America signing up students. We are even giving away iTunes cards and a Sony Wii system to one lucky applicant every week for three weeks. If you know anyone who is Jewish and between the ages of 18-26 who has not been to Israel on a peer trip, please encourage him or her to register for a Hillel trip at www.freeisraeltrip.org.
I look forward to a year in which we will have thousands of students in Israel, thousands on alternative breaks doing tzedek, social justice, work, and in which we will host a Summit on the University and the Jewish Community in Washington, D.C. (March 24-28). The New Year is beginning in an atmosphere of energy, excitement and optimism. With the hard work and support of all of our stakeholders we will be able to engage more students in meaningful Jewish experiences.
Thank you for all of your hard work and support.
Best wishes for a year filled with health, happiness and peace.
Wayne L. Firestone
RE: Great New Beginning
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