Four new student members have been selected to join the Hillel International Board of Directors. Ruthie Charendoff (Northwestern University), Marisa Fernandez (Appalachian State University), Kevin Lieberman (University of Michigan) and Sami Rahamim (University of Minnesota) were selected from 17 applicants nationwide. They join two current student Board members, Hannah Schlachter (University of Illinois) and Zach Wolff (NYU).
The selection process, limited to rising juniors and seniors, sought to ensure a geographic, gender, and age balance. Alongside Board members involved in local Hillels, Hillel International professionals, and thought leaders in the Jewish community, student members add an important voice and perspective.
“I offer my heartfelt thanks to all of the students who applied, and congratulations to those who were selected,” said President and CEO Eric D. Fingerhut. “Student members help other Board members grapple with challenging issues including campus services and expansion.”
“As the constituents of the Hillel community, and the future of the Jewish community, students are a critical voice at the local and international levels,” said newly elected Board Member Ruthie Charendoff, a sophomore at Northwestern University. “I hope to work on bridging the gap between students who connect more with Judaism culturally and those who identify religiously, as well as address how we, as a Jewish community, can take a leadership role in social action on campus.”
Added Kevin Lieberman, an incoming Board member and Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan: “Hillel empowers college students to build relationship-based communities. As a Jewish student leader, I hope to share how the nuances of student relationships may be considered to further engage and empower Jewish students.”
Meet the new student Board members
Ruthie Charendoff is a sophomore at Northwestern University studying learning sciences and global health. On campus, she is involved in her local Hillel as part of the programming and religious life committees, and she runs JFAM, a Jewish student buddy program). Ruthie tutors at-risk children at Lincolnwood Elementary School and teaches a health class to high school freshmen in the Chicago Public Schools. When she is not at school, Ruthie loves spending time at Jewish summer camp, ziplining and singing Jewish and Israeli songs.
Marisa Fernandez is the president of the Hillel chapter at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and serves as a student representative for North Carolina Hillel's Board of Directors. Originally from Marietta, Georgia, Marisa is a sophomore philosophy student with a concentration in applied and political ethics. Her paper, “The Good, The Bad, & The Unethical: The Ethics of Propaganda,” was published in the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) Proceedings 2016 and she has presented at local, state, and national philosophy conferences. Marisa enjoys hiking in the Appalachian Mountains, driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway with friends, and spending time at the Temple of the High Country.
Kevin Lieberman is a second-year robotics Ph.D. student and national defense science and engineering graduate fellow at the University of Michigan. A native Washingtonian, Kevin graduated with departmental distinction in mechanical engineering from Duke University and was president of the Duke Jewish Student Union. While working for an air traffic control engineering company after college, Kevin founded the DC Design Workshop, a young adult-led project to increase the sense of belonging for Jewish young adults. He was elected the 2014-2015 DC Jewish Guy of the Year by Gather the Jews. A leader in the Moishe House community, Kevin has hosted more than 50 Moishe House Without Walls programs. Kevin founded jUnion: The Michigan Jewish Graduate Student Union and is a graduate student member of Michigan Hillel's governing board.
Sami Rahamim is a junior at the University of Minnesota studying non-profit management and entrepreneurship. He has served as president of his campus's Students Supporting Israel chapter and as Hillel vice president of Israel and Jewish content. He is also a board member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. This past semester, he studied abroad in India.