New Orleans Hillel Executive Director Paige Nathan joined with 14 fellow Jewish educators in a private meeting with President Bush this week in advance of the annual White House Chanukah party.
During the wide-ranging, hour-long session, Nathan briefed the president on Hillel's efforts to help Katrina victims in the immediate aftermath of the storm and in the coming weeks as Hillel sends volunteers to the region. The president praised the efforts of relief volunteers and the communities that took in hurricane victims calling the United States "a giant compassion sponge."
Nathan also told the president about Hillel's efforts to keep the Tulane student community together through visits to host campuses. Bush encouraged students to return to Tulane University saying, "This is an amazing opportunity to be a part of a brand new community. It is a pioneering opportunity. They will need courage, discipline, will, fortitude, patience and perseverance, many religious virtues."
The president praised Tulane President Scott Cowen as "an aggressive dude" who is helping Mayor Ray Nagin to rebuild the city. Alluding to the university's sports team, The Green Wave, the president said that returning students "will be the first wave dedicated to rebuilding the university.
"Be joyous in the chance to help revitalize a university," said Bush.