Hillel International President and CEO Eric Fingerhut announced today that Rabbi Daniel Smokler is joining the organization as its first Chief Innovation Officer. This addition to the senior leadership team at the Schusterman International Center (SIC) comes as part of Hillel’s Strategic Implementation Plan.
"Rabbi Dan Smokler has been one of the leading innovators in the Hillel movement over the past decade, and is one of the most creative and exciting thinkers in the Jewish world," said Fingerhut. "The Jewish students we work with on campus change every year, and so must we. I am excited that Dan will bring his talent to Hillel International, and that he will bring new thinking and practices to our more than 550 local Hillels across the globe."
Rabbi Smokler, 35, will collaborate with Hillel's global network to create and test new approaches to fulfilling Hillel's vision of engaging Jewish college students and inspiring them to develop an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. He will assume his new position in September, and be based in New York City.
"Rabbi Smokler will help us keep the fulfillment of Hillel's mission at the forefront of Jewish life in the 21st century," said Sidney Pertnoy, Chairman of Hillel International's Board of Directors. "He will generate and introduce new approaches to student engagement that foster Jewish commitment."
"85% of Jews in the United States go to college." Smokler said. "This makes Hillel uniquely positioned to help ensure Jewish continuity and cultural vitality for the next generation. I am proud to be have the opportunity to contribute to the Hillel movement in this exciting new position."
Smokler joins Hillel International from New York University's Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life where he served as Director of Education and Engagement. In addition to his role at NYU's Hillel, he has also worked for Hillel at UCLA, where he founded Hillel's highly successful Senior Jewish Educator Initiative. Prior to that, Smokler founded Organizational Solutions, a labor consulting firm, and worked as a labor union organizer for the Service Employees Union and the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union in Connecticut and Los Angeles. An ordained Orthodox Rabbi, Smokler is a graduate of Yale University with a BA in the History of Art. He is currently completing a PhD in Education and Jewish Studies at NYU as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. In 2011, the Jewish Week named him one of the "36 under 36" changemakers in Jewish life. Smokler lives in New York with his wife Erin Leib Smokler, the director of Spiritual Development at Yeshivat Maharat, and their two sons, Shalev and Nadiv.