Energized for the upcoming year, incoming Hillel staffers came together this week to learn the ins and outs of the organization at the New Professionals Institute. Executive directors and development directors gathered at Hillel's Schusterman International Center in Washington, DC, while assistant directors, campus rabbis and program professionals met at the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center in Reisterstown, Md.
Participants made connections with new colleagues, learned the relationship between Jewish sources and their core job functions, and enhanced their effectiveness as accessible Jewish educators on campus. Sessions covered everything from administrative work and development campaigns to marketing and media relations.
The new personnel met with experienced professionals from the field, lay leaders, including Randall Kaplan, the chairman of the Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life Board of Directors, as well as Hillel President Avraham Infeld. Staffers from the Israel on Campus Coalition, birthright israel department, international division and Weinberg Tzedek Hillel also shared their expertise and programming ideas.
Brian Cohen is a seasoned Hillel professional, having worked at Binghamton University Hillel for two and a half years as the Jewish student life director. Nevertheless, he was eager to meet his fellow directors and staff at the Schusterman International Center who could help him adjust to his new position as the executive director of University of Virginia Hillel.
"Now we have a network – people we can talk with, share stories and consult," Cohen said.
Cohen also enjoyed hearing from long-term Hillel directors who shared their success stories and offered advice on establishing their presence on campuses.
"It was really motivating to see campuses that were in a similar state to my campus and learn how they built themselves up – it's something to strive for," he said.
After volunteering for her Jewish community for years, Pam Newman joins the Hillel family as the executive director of University of Connecticut Hillel and is full of enthusiasm even before students have arrived on campus.
"It's even more exciting than I thought it would be," she said. "We can really change the world."