Nine Hillel professionals from North America and Israel shared the spotlight at last week's Hillel International Professional Staff Conference
when they were honored with the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award. Named after the first president of an independent Hillel, the award recognizes those whose remarkable passion and outstanding devotion to the Jewish campus community set a standard for all Hillel professionals to emulate.
"The exemplars we honor tonight hail from many different types of Hillels and represent different aspects of our work. But they all share a fierce commitment to fostering vibrant Jewish opportunities for the hundreds of thousands of students we serve worldwide," said Hillel President Avraham Infeld.
The 2005 Richard M. Joel Staff Exemplars of Excellence are:Cindy Greenberg, executive director of the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University"For inspiring the NYU campus community to embrace Jewish life with joy, enthusiasm and pride."
Greenberg connects with students from all walks of life on a daily basis and understands students' diverse Jewish journeys. She encourages students to participate in community service, engage in meaningful discourse on Israel-related issues and utilize arts and culture as a means of spiritual expression.Eyal Lichtmann, executive director of the Vancouver Hillel Foundation"For providing visionary leadership and building a revitalized Vancouver Hillel."
Lichtmann has built strong partnerships and coalitions among lay leaders, university administrators and area supporters, resulting in a stronger Hillel with incredible backing throughout the local community. Those efforts most recently came into play with the opening of a new facility at Simon Fraser University, one of the five campuses the Vancouver Hillel Foundation serves.Josh Kashinsky, acting director of Santa Barbara Hillel"For leading Santa Barbara Hillel with courage, conviction and caring."
Kashinsky originally began his career at Santa Barbara Hillel as a program director in 2002, but the departure of the executive director prompted him to learn to manage lay-leader relationships, operations, staffing responsibilities and administrative functions. At the same time, he still found the time to ensure programming excellence and make activities creative and engaging. Kashinsky will soon bring his expertise to the Center for Jewish Life at Princeton University, where he will become the assistant director next month.Cindy Spungin, director of student activities at Brandeis University Hillel"For compassionately enriching the Brandeis campus with her
neshamah, her professionalism and her candor."
During her seven years at Brandeis University Hillel, the university staff working in residence life, student activities, event planning and even catering have come to know Spungin as someone who can help them meet the needs of Jewish students in thoughtful and collegial ways. Her students and colleagues benefit from her desire to provide enduring, positive connections to Jewish life in ways that fit with their needs.Rabbi Will Berkovitz, assistant director of University of Washington Hillel"For opening our hearts and minds to the magic of the universe and the beauty of Jewish life."
Berkovitz works to connect students and young adults to Jewish life and meaningful Jewish experiences through a variety of venues that are designed to resonate with a host of eclectic interests. He challenges others to grow intellectually, academically and spiritually with everything from formal classes and lectures to philosophical discussions over a cup of coffee.Ofer Namimi, director of Hillel at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev"For cultivating the seeds of Jewish renaissance in the desert and enabling Jewish life at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to flower."
Namimi's belief that Hillel can serve as a model to the Jewish world by embracing differences with respect has inspired his colleagues in Beersheva and throughout Israel. Well-respected by students and staff, he always will make the time to listen, offer guidance and help his community.Marla Meyers, director of institutional advancement at Hillel of Greater Philadelphia"For insightfully ensuring that possibilities will become realities."
Meyers has shown enormous growth and flexibility during her 14-year career at Hillel of Greater Philadelphia. Her ability to passionately convey the Hillel story to donors has enabled fundraising to increase steadily in recent years, and she now employs many of the same methods she once used with students to develop new strategies and partnerships and bolster development efforts.Rabbi Ari Israel, executive director of University of Maryland, College Park Hillel"For infusing the University of Maryland, College Park with unbridled vibrancy and vitality."
Renowned for fostering vibrant experiences for the 6,000 Jewish students on campus, Israel has also represented the Jewish community in nearby Washington, D.C., where he has met with President George W. Bush and Jordanian King Abdullah II. Fellow professionals, students, board members and parents appreciate his respect for them as empowered decision-makers and valued partners.Gary Coleman, executive director of Hillel at Binghamton"For transforming Jewish life at Binghamton University while modeling passion and professionalism."
Known for his exceptional work ethic and commitment to Jewish life, Coleman and frequently invites students to his house for meals and a taste of home. He is just as dedicated to his colleagues, allowing them to shine and become full partners in Hillel's success and encouraging them to maximize opportunities for professional growth.