Posted by: Wayne L. Firestone, President on 11/20/2007 12:37:00 PM
The 2007 United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Nashville will be remembered as a watershed in Hillel’s relationship with the Federation movement. Never before have Jewish students, or Hillel, played such a significant role at this most prestigious of Jewish communal gatherings.
As the media have reported, the GA opened with Hillel students marching into the plenary to the sound of college fight songs. It ended with a dvar Torah by Yeshiva University Professor Rabbi J.J. Schacter praising the work of our director at Tel Aviv University, Pnina Gaday, who also addressed the final plenary. From beginning to end, the issues of young people were a prime concern of the meeting. I encourage you to read a complete description of the GA, including press overage, on the Hillel Web site.
Hillel’s GA presence is an indication of the close partnership that we enjoy with the Federation movement. Our 2007 Annual Report states that Federations provide $1.9 million to the Charles and Lynn Schusterman International Center and $16.9 million to Hillels locally, nationally and internationally. This commitment is not just the investment of the 37 local Jewish federations that make up the National Federation/Agency Alliance, but includes the donations of local federations to Hillels in their area, such as the funding provided by the UJA-Federation of New York to Hillels throughout the state.
This partnership with the Federation movement has been forged over many years. Federations helped to bring the modern Hillel movement into existence, providing crucial support locally and nationally so that Hillel could meet the new realities of college students in the 1990s and beyond. Today, UJC Chairman Joe Kanfer and President CEO Howard Rieger continue in this tradition. We are proud that Kathy Manning not only served as chair of the GA this year but is the first woman to serve as chair of the UJC’s Executive Committee. A longtime Hillel supporter, Kathy is intimately familiar with the needs of college students both as the mother of a child in college and as the wife of former Hillel Chairman of the Board Randall Kaplan.
I was particularly pleased that Hillel participated in a service learning program with the Young Leadership Cabinet of the UJC on the Sunday morning before the opening session. These young leaders provided an important role model for our students, and our students demonstrated the importance of immersive experiences, and social justice, to Hillel today. In a subsequent address to the Young Leadership Cabinet during the GA, I encouraged members to join their local Hillel boards so that they can learn first hand about the needs of today’s college students.
Hillel’s successful presence at the GA would not have been possible without the hard work of so many UJC professionals. Gail Reiss and Sarrae Crane were instrumental in ensuring that Hillel students and professionals played important roles throughout the conference. Hillel assembled a team of professionals from the field and from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman International Center to work with the UJC staff and to give Hillel student participants the opportunity to get the most of their GA experience. I want to thank, especially, our field colleagues, Hillel of Greater Philadelphia Regional Director Howard Alpert, Michigan Hillel Executive Director Michael Brooks, and Hillels of Illinois Regional Director Paul Saiger. I can't say enough about the hard work of Vanderbilt Hillel Executive Director Ari Dubin whose Hillel served as the home-away-from-home for dozens of Hillel students and professionals and who rose to every challenge placed before him. Kol Hakavod to all of my Hillel colleagues.
Our 2007 Annual Report emphasizes the importance of meaningful journeys and fulfilling homecomings to Jewish students. The 2007 UJC GA was just such a meaningful journey for students and non-students alike. Hillel is proud to have been an important part of this event. Now it is our responsibility to ensure that this three-day experience becomes a fulfilling, ongoing homecoming.
RE: Hillel, Federation Partnership Hits New High at UJC GA
(up to 500 characters): *