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Welcoming the New Year...Ready...Set...Go!

by Nathan Render |Sep 25, 2009|Comments

Nathan Render.What a busy month it's been here at the Schusterman International Center! With 400,000 Jewish college students back on campus, the High Holidays are in full swing, our Campus Entrepreneurs and Peer Network Interns have begun their engagement work, and Hillel is starting off the new academic and Jewish year full of momentum. Just in case that's not enough to keep us busy, I also had the pleasure of experiencing my first International Hillel Board of Directors meeting mid-September, where over 70 committed lay leaders, Hillel professionals, and students representatives from around the country gathered here in Washington, D.C.

How amazing it is that - in an age often characterized by declining volunteerism at Jewish organizations, a youth culture perceived as uninterested in Jewish life, and a difficult economic climate hindering Jewish philanthropy - students, professionals, and community leaders convene eagerly and passionately to address these challenges head on. In the face of uncertainty, Hillel's leadership, with its unconditional passion and broad range of perspectives, discussed the vision and future of the organization so it will not only exist, but thrive.

The Schusterman International Center was a bustling place for 36 hours - committee meetings, strategic discussions, a taste of this year's Engagement Institute, and of course, a little time to schmooze with new and old friends. A definite perk of the Bronfman Fellow job is the ability to float freely from meeting to meeting. As I supported my colleagues in their work, I also gained a well rounded, insightful view into the persistent hard work and unique perspective each board member brings to the table. I facilitated dinner conversation about my Engagement Institute experience, met for a late night dessert reception with the eight student board members in attendance, engaged in deep meaningful discussion during the Jewish Experience committee meeting, and had the pleasure of hearing from Gabriel Trajtenberg and Marcia Kelner-Polisuk from Hillels of Latin America about the work they're doing to invigorate Jewish life south of the Equator.

For the first time in my life, I was not among those returning to school this fall. But I feel fortunate and blessed to be a part of so many positive new beginnings that are taking place at the SIC, on campus, and in the Jewish community at large.

I wish you a happy, healthy, and sweet new year.

Shana Tovah and G'mar Tov,


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