In Hillel we provide many programs aimed to reach every student that we work with. Large programs, such as speakers, formals, philanthropy programs with other campus organizations, and celebrations of major Jewish and Israeli holidays (including Shabbat), all bring students out of the woodwork. During these times, we get a good sense of our relationship to the community and who exactly are we enriching.
In Bamidbar, a census of the Jewish people is taken. It is a moment to recognize the Jewish community and the individuals that comprise it. It’s about establishing a relationship with a group of people.
But do we and can we establish relationships with the individual members of that community? Where Hillels may place emphasis on recognizing the entire community, we cannot forget the importance of the relationship to the individual.
If we pride ourselves on having an enriching effect on our communities, we need to to consider more the members of that community who aren’t our leaders and don’t attend our regular programs. How do we use staff and student relationships so that Hillel’s enriching effect is strong throughout the social spectrum of our campus?
Mike Schreiber is Engagement Associate at Illini Hillel (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).