Hillel Names Student Exemplars
March 25, 2008Comments (0)
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At the 2008 Summit in Washington, D.C., Hillel named seven outstanding students from around the world as recipients of the Philip H. and Susan Rudd Cohen Student Exemplar of Excellence Awards.
The awards are presented each year to Hillel students who exemplify leadership on campus and within the community and help advance Hillel’s mission to enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. This year’s Exemplars come from a variety of schools and backgrounds and through their commitment to Hillel and the Jewish community have become role models for leadership and have strategically and successfully made a signifi cant impact on other students and the community at large.
Student Exemplars of Excellence.
The 2008 Philip H. and Susan Rudd Cohen Student Exemplars of Excellence are:
Liz Cohen, University of Kansas
Throughout her four years at KU, Liz has been an integral part of Hillel’s leadership, including serving as president of the student board. Early in her involvement, Liz realized that the leadership structure was not effective at engaging a large number of students. She took it upon herself to redesign the leadership structure to provide more meaningful leadership opportunities to more students. As part of the process, Liz traveled to Hillels around the country to interview staff and student leaders about their leadership structures and engaged dozens of her peers in discussions about what they waned out of Jewish life at KU. The end product was a decentralized student leadership structure that in turn helped transform the KU Jewish student community into multiple social networks throughout campus. Liz also represented KU Hillel on KU’s President’s Council, allowing her to develop strong ties with student leaders from all over campus.
Matt Cohen, Tufts University
Matt got involved with Tufts University Hillel Foundation at the end of his freshman year through Holocaust Commemoration week, in which he helped plan several programs for the week including a very successful evening with a Holocaust survivor. Although the stakes were high and it was his fi rst major involvement with Hillel, Matt took on the challenge because he felt it was too important of a topic to not get involved. Social justice has been the focus of Matt’s involvement with Hillel, as he as been an active member and chair of the social action committee and an integral part of the Moral Voices initiative, a year-long social justice initiative based on a pertinent issue facing the community. Matt has dedicated countless hours to researching this year’s Moral Voices theme, economic justice, and developing an after-school program for the immigrant youth of the local community in Somerville. This program exemplifi es Hillel’s mission of enriching the Jewish people and the world as it benefi ts the local underprivileged community and involves numerous other Jewish students from Tufts as volunteers. Although Matt is graduating this year, he has made plans to ensure the sustainability of this valuable community program by identifying students to take over the project next year.
Fernando Farji, Hillel Argentina
For many years, Fernando has been an active participant in Hillel Argentina and currently serves as the coordinator of Hillel Argentina’s Israel Advocacy Group. His continuous contributions have helped increase participation in numerous programs that he plans, including Shabbat dinners, seminars and conferences. Fernando participates regularly in the Hillel Argentina Conversation Club which helps students improve their English speaking skills through movies, theater and regular conversations which he helps to organize. After participating in the 2007-2008 Charles Schusterman International Student Leaders Assembly, Fernando has been working with the Hillel Argentina staff to develop experiential education programs for student participants.
Elizabeth Leiwant, Bowdoin College
A senior at Bowdoin College, Liz has been actively involved in Hillel throughout her college career and currently serves as the president of Bowdoin College Hillel. When Liz fi rst arrived at Bowdoin College, it was the fi rst year that the college had an official Hillel. Although there had been a Jewish Student Organization at Bowdoin previously, the range of activities was modest. Liz took the initiative to institute weekly Shabbat candle-lighting services, which at first had only a minimal turnout. Four years later, Shabbat candle-lighting at Bowdoin Hillel happens every week with great turnouts, music and a student-compiled prayer book. During her sophomore year, Liz was one of the driving forces behind Bowdoin College Hillel’s participation in the Soref Advancement Initiative, which was designed to assist campuses with small Jewish student populations take their Hillel to the next level. Liz was instrumental in the application process as one of the student authors of the grant proposal and during the following year, worked tirelessly to implement the initiatives outlined in the proposal.
Jonathan Newcombe, Hunter College
Jonathan has been the student president of Hillel at Hunter College for three years. Throughout this time, he has served as an advocate for Hillel at Hunter College both to the Hillel Board of Directors and to other organizations on campus. At a time when Jonathan felt that Hillel at Hunter College was not reaching its potential, he proceeded to write an independent study paper on the culture of Hillel at Hunter College and the potential positive impact that a strong Hillel could have on Jewish student life on the Hunter campus. He fought tirelessly to garner the necessary support to create a well-staffed Hillel that could meet the specifi c needs of the Hunter Jewish community and his efforts proved a success. As an active member in both Hillel and the Hunter College Student Government, Jonathan has played a pivotal role in facilitating and participating in activities that link Hillel and the university, including the dialogue between Hillel and the Palestinian Club. Jonathan has been a consummate diplomat and has shown great strength in trying to intelligently create peaceful solutions to volatile situations in an ethnically charged environment.
Allison Rose, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Throughout her four years at UNC, Allison has created three initiatives that continue to transform the lives of those in the Chapel Hill community. As a freshman, Alli created a women’s safety and empowerment initiative called Project Dinah, which strives to equip women with the knowledge and tools necessary to increase awareness of women’s issues at the university and at large. Through providing opportunities for women to learn important skills such as self-defense and verbal assertiveness, distributing safety whistles and organizing the annual “Take Back the Night” event, Project Dinah has become a vital part of the campus community, improving women’s lives at UNC. As a senior and North Carolina Hillel’s Executive Vice President, Alli has created two additional initiatives that have become cornerstones of North Carolina Hillel. “One Book, One People” is an intergenerational book club where college students and senior adults read and discuss Jewish books. Alli has also dedicated countless hours to the “Southern Jewish Initiative” which will not even be happening on campus until after Alli graduates.
Ari Stern, American University, Washington College of Law
As a law student, Ari has taken on the challenge of enriching the lives of Jewish graduate students. Throughout his three years at American University’s Washington College of Law, Ari has become an active member in the Israel and Law society, increasing the size of its executive board from one member to 16 and more than quadrupling the general membership numbers, as well as making a continuous effort to co-sponsor every Israel and Law society event with other student groups on campus. On the national level, Ari has been working tirelessly to bring the National Jewish Law Students Association (NJLSA) to a new level. Through drafting an NJLSA Constitution, a strategic plan and by-laws, Ari has helped breathe new life into NJLSA and is working towards making it a more sustainable organization with long-term goals and objectives. Additionally, Ari sits on the AU Hillel Board of Directors, using his experience and passion to help support Jewish life on campus for undergraduates.