Timberland Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Swartz, Hillel International Board of Governors Co-Chair Michael Steinhardt, Hillel Board of Directors Chairman Neil Moss, Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon and United Jewish Communities Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hoffman joined over 500 Hillel professionals from around the world at the Hillel International Professional Staff Conference in Princeton, NJ. The four-day conference included representatives from Hillel in Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
The professionals and lay leaders explored the challenges of Jewish campus life and bade farewell to Hillel President and International Director Richard M. Joel who will assume the presidency of Yeshiva University in June. "I know that Hillel will be proud and effective and will move forward without skipping a beat," said Joel in his final State of the Movement address.
"Richard, you leave Hillel stronger than ever. Now it is the responsibility of those of us in this room - lay leaders and professionals - to ensure that this structure endures and grows," said Steinhardt. "I am immensely pleased that I can be, and will be, a leading part of this movement."
Ohio State Hillel Steinhardt Jewish Campus Service Corps fellow Anna Berezina, who originally worked with Hillel in Russia, echoed Steinhardt's comment, saying, "I am honored to be a part of this global community."
The theme of the conference, "Community, Meaning, and Pride," resonated throughout the week. Director of the Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning Rabbi Avi Weinstein opened the conference by exploring the rabbinic edict "do not separate yourself from the community" attributed to the ancient sage Hillel. Weinstein stressed the importance of the individual within a community. "Our strength and power comes from within each other. We need to make people feel special and show that we both matter to one another. This conference is about building a strong, Jewishly rich community," said Weinstein. Timberland CEO Swartz addressed
Steinhardt JCSC Fellows and other professionals as part of the Kolker-Saxon-Hallock Engagement Institute. Swartz dedicated his remarks to the late J.J. Greenberg who exemplified the Jewish ideals of tzedaka (justice) and chesed (kindness) in his life and in his work as the executive director of the Jewish Life Network.
In a plenary address, Ambassador Ayalon praised
Hillel professionals for their pro-active Israel education on campus. Professionals also participated in a wide range of seminars, ranging from Web training to board development, media relations to campus programming.
The conference provided an occasion to celebrate the achievements of Hillel professionals. Hillel's Elie Wiesel Award for Jewish Arts and Culture was awarded to Hillel at Northwestern University and Hillel at Pierce and Valley Colleges. The William Haber Award for Jewish campus programs was presented to St. Louis Hillel at Washington University, Hillel at the University of Connecticut, Berkeley Hillel, and the Hillel Foundation at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The Meyerhoff Award for Jewish Learning was awarded to Hillel at the University of Florida.
Hillel also named seven individuals as Exemplars of Excellence
: Director Enrique Dreisis of Hillel Uruguay; Associate Director Hila Reichman of the multi-campus Hillel Philadelphia; Director Jackie Tolley of Hillel of San Diego; Executive Director Greg Steinberger of Hillel at the University of Wisconsin; Business Manager Jackie Gerson of Hillel at Washington University; Jewish Student Life Coordinator Sarah Raful of Hillel at the George Washington University; and Director Linda Askenazi of Hillel at Brooklyn College.