The 2005-06 Schusterman International Center Fellows may come from vastly different parts of the country - from the California coast to blustery Boston and everywhere in between - but they all arrived with a similar mission: to gain an intense and exciting introduction to the Jewish working world. During their yearlong fellowships, these recent college graduates will strengthen their leadership skills and networking opportunities as they transition from Hillel student leaders to Hillel professionals.
Julie Finkelstein is making the transition from Hillel student leader at the University of Maryland, College Park to Hillel professional as the new Israel Education Fellow. An anthropology major who grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, she was active in her campus Hillel and Jewish Student Union throughout her college career, serving as the director's intern, Grinspoon Israel Advocacy Intern and JSU executive vice president as well as sitting on the Jewish Leadership Council and University of Maryland Hillel Board of Directors.
Finkelstein's position will allow her to be part of an Israel team that includes the Hillel-Jewish Agency shaliach, educators in the Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning and the Israel on Campus Coalition. She will promote cultural, political, historical, intellectual and other non-traditional forms of Israel education through programs like the OTZMA-Hillel Fellowship, the Grinspoon Israel Advocacy Internship and birthright israel follow-up initiatives.
"I am thrilled to be working for an organization where everyone's diverse talents and interests are combined to achieve the goal of connecting college students to the Jewish community," Finkelstein said.
Colorado native Zach Gelman brings years of experience in pro-Israel organizations to Hillel and the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) as this year's ICC Israel Advocacy Fellow. While studying political science and American history at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Gelman served two-year terms as president of both CU Hillel and the Israel-Colorado Education and Public Affairs Committee (ICEPAC). He also was a member of the Board of Directors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and created innovative pro-Israel programming on campus as a Grinspoon Israel Intern. Gelman was also active in student government, chairing a committee concerning hate crimes on campus and serving as a liaison between the student body and the university's police department.
In his new position, Gelman will serve as a resource and mentor for pro-Israel student activists, including overseeing the AVI CHAI grants initiative that provides funding for student-generated Israel advocacy campaigns. He said he is excited to share his wealth of experiences with students who are facing new challenges on their campuses.
"I hope that I can help students make their new Israel program ideas successful and ensure that they gain tangible skills in the planning and evaluation processes that they can use in their everyday lives," Gelman said.
Weinberg Tzedek Hillel Fellow Emily Goodstein has moved her passion for social-justice causes across town from The George Washington University, where she recently received a degree in human services. As the Tzedek Advocacy Intern at GW Hillel, she married her interests in Judaism and reproductive rights by creating programming that addressed Jewish perspectives on reproductive choice. Goodstein founded Voices for Choices, GW's Planned Parenthood Chapter, and was also a member of the steering committee for the GW delegation to the March for Women's Lives, the Student Global AIDS Campaign, the Jewish Progressive Political Association and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance.
Goodstein, who hails from Potomac, Md., will work with students about social-justice issues through a Jewish lens. Along with helping with the Weinberg Tzedek Hillel Mission to Israel, the Charlotte B. and Jack J. Spitzer B'nai B'rith Hillel Forum on Public Policy and grant allocation, she is eager to maintain her connection to the Tzedek Advocacy Internship program in an advisory role.
"I am really looking forward to working with the Tzedek Advocacy Interns next year - I hope they will educate me about the issues they are working on and keep me connected to campus organizing, student empowerment and grassroots activism," Goodstein said.
As the new Bittker Fellow, Danny Greene will build on the leadership skills he developed at Stanford University, where he studied political science and Jewish studies. The San Rafael, Calif., native served as holiday chair and president of Stanford Hillel's Jewish Leadership Council, as the Koret development intern and as a member of the Stanford Hillel Board of Directors. Greene was also a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and co-captain of the ultimate Frisbee team.
Greene will have a hand in several conferences and projects throughout the year, including the upcoming 2005 Charles Schusterman International Student Leaders Assembly and the United Jewish Communities' General Assembly later in the fall. He is looking forward to working with a diverse pool of student leaders, whose interests range on everything from Tzedek work to Israel advocacy to Jewish learning.
"The Bittker Fellowship gives me an 'in' into every aspect of Hillel programming," Greene said. "This is a great way to combine all that Hillel does into one overarching position."
Recent Brandeis University graduate Reuben Posner joins Hillel's Joseph Meyerhoff Center on Jewish Learning as the Meyerhoff Jewish Education Fellow. The Baltimore native, who majored in Near Eastern and Jewish studies and psychology, was an active member of Brandeis Hillel throughout his college years, serving as education coordinator, religious life coordinator and president. Posner was also dedicated to Tzedek projects as a member of the Waltham Group community-service organization and the Waltham Kids' Club, which provides after-school programming for low-income children in the university's hometown.
As the Meyerhoff Jewish Education Fellow, Posner will bring Jewish learning to life on college campuses around the world by serving as an educational and programming resource to Jewish college students and Hillel professionals looking for Jewish content and enrichment. He hopes his enthusiasm for Jewish education will help spark students' interest in learning more about Jewish values and teachings.
"No one tells you before you get to college that what you do outside of the classroom can be, and probably is, more important in terms of helping you set your post-college life path than what you learn inside the classroom. At some point in college I had that realization and decided that I want to do Jewish education. Hopefully, while I am learning I will be able to help others learn as well," Posner said.
Incoming Soref Fellow Lisa Stella knows firsthand the joys and the challenges of living in a small Jewish community. She grew up in Wausau, Wis., before attending the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she majored in international studies and Hebrew. A Hillel student leader from the beginning, Stella was very involved in the Jewish Volunteer Corps, led Shabbat services at a local senior living facility, coordinated "Do The Deed" day of community service and helped to plan Israel fairs and MADpac (Madison Israel Public Affairs Committee) events. She also worked as a resident assistant and involvement coordinator in university housing and participated in the new-student orientation program as a housing representative.
Stella will provide support and resources to the more than 350 campuses served by Soref Initiative for Emerging Campuses, which helps strengthen Jewish life at colleges and universities with small Jewish populations. Through programs like the Soref Advancement Initiative, she will help students and advisors network with one another, provide training seminars and facilitate grant opportunities.
"Coming from a hometown with a small Jewish population, I recognized the importance of having a stable and open space to be able to cultivate Jewish identity and interact with other Jews of the same age. Being in the much larger Jewish community of Madison and experiencing their vibrant and diverse Hillel has helped me see how much we young Jews can experience and learn from each other," Stella said.