JDub President Aaron Bisman speaks to Hillel executive directors.
Snow? What snow?
More than 90 Hillel executive directors from across North America defied the largest December snowstorm in Washington, D.C.-area history to attend the first Hillel Directors' Symposium, which was held at the Ben and Esther Rosenbloom Center for Jewish Life, the University of Maryland Hillel. The storm dumped up to two feet of snow on a region that is shut down by the threat of just a few inches.
The day-long meeting was organized by a committee of Hillel directors chaired by Jewish Life at Duke Director Rebecca Simons and Pittsburgh Jewish University Center Executive Director Aaron Weil. It brought together Hillel professionals from as far away as Washington State to discuss the changing nature of Jewish identity among students on the contemporary college campus.
The discussion focused on different ways to foster stronger Jewish identities and to build campus Jewish communities including alternative breaks, civic engagement and social justice, engaging the entire campus, Israel, relationship-building, social-networking, and Taglit-Birthright Israel. In addition to Hillel professionals, speakers included Or Mars, director of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program, and Aaron Bisman, president and CEO of JDub Records. Hillel President and CEO Wayne L. Firestone led a town hall meeting on different approaches to Jewish identity building.
"We are gratified that so many professionals from across the country contributed to creating this conference," says Rebecca Simons. "Working as hard as we do on our individual campuses it is empowering and rejuvenating to join together with our peers."
"The professionals who attended the conference found it to be a valuable experience in which they were able to get to know one another and rigorously discuss their challenges and accomplishments," adds Aaron Weil.
Participants in Hillel's Accelerate Program attended a training session prior to the Symposium. Accelerate trains professionals in the skills they need to become Hillel executive directors.