Hillel President Wayne Firestone (left) and Board of Directors member Phillip Cohen (right) congratulate San Diego State University student Rebecca Steinberger on being named one of the five Phillip H. and Susann Rudd Cohen Student Exemplars of Excellence.
Five student activists at Hillels across the United States received the Philip H. and Susan Rudd Cohen Student Exemplar of Excellence award last month at the 2006 Charles Schusterman International Student Leaders Assembly. These student leaders were selected for their dedication to, energy over and enthusiasm for Jewish life on campus as well as their contributions to their greater communities.
“Hillel is fortunate to have students such these building and advocating for Jewish life on and off campus,” said Hillel President Wayne Firestone. “Their contributions to the global Jewish community will be felt for a long time to come.”
The five recipients are:
Helaine Alon, University of Vermont
Alon is very active in Hillel and other campus organizations such as Students for Peace and Global Justice, University of Vermont’s student government and Hillel. According to the Hillel professional who nominated her, “Since starting to work with the Hillel board, Helaine has been instrumental in making the programming innovative, spiritual and inclusive. Additionally, the number of programs this student has brought to campus has been amazing.”
Ben Freedman, Bowdoin College
In nominating Ben, Hillel professionals noted that Freedman is the kind of young leader who dreams big, then goes out and makes those dreams a reality. At a university that is both geographically isolated and has a small Jewish population, he has been instrumental in moving the campus Hillel forward. With enthusiasm, creativity, great communicative and leadership skills, Freedman has engaged many new students through social events at his campus and in the surrounding areas.
Amanda Graber, Hofstra University
One of Graber’s outstanding leadership qualities is her ability to make everyone feel personally, warmly and enthusiastically welcomed at Hofstra Hillel programs. Throughout her college career Graber has taken on numerous leadership roles including the Student Leadership Council’s Kesher chair position, the Maimonides Leaders Fellowship program and the Collegiate Leadership Internship Program. After participating in Taglit - birthright israel and the Hillel’s Student Leadership Pluralism Mission, Graber became more passionate about Jewish identity and Israel and used these experiences to energize Jewish life on campus.
Rebecca Steinberger, San Diego State University
Steinberger has been recognized by her peers as an extremely dedicated member and leader of the Hillel at San Diego State. She has been a role model for Jewish advocacy on her campus, working with a committee of student leaders from the entire state system and meeting with the campus student government body to reinstate Israel study abroad opportunities. Additionally, she was instrumental in planning an alternative spring break trip to Rio de Janeiro. Upon her return she was inspired to reach out to as many people as possible in order to bring them even a small piece of the experience.
Heather Zidow, University of Texas, Austin
Since entering college three years ago, Zidow has been heavily involved in programming at the Texas Hillel Foundation. She is currently the Tzedek intern and one of five students who sit on the Student Executive Council of Texas Hillel. Constantly taking on new challenges, Zidow organized a Texas Hillel delegation to participate in the recent Hurricane Katrina alternative spring break in Mississippi following a trip to Argentina two years earlier. As the Cabinet liaison to all service and social justice programming, Zidow has the goal of incorporating Tzedek ideals and activities into all social, religious and Israel programming for Texas Hillel.