While my academic and work experiences at Trinity College have all influenced me, (including biogeography, philosophy, and art history classes, my senior thesis paper about Jackie Kennedy’s White House, my jobs in the Office of Admissions and the writing center, and my studies abroad in Paris), none of these college experiences have shaped my life in the way that my time at the Zachs Hillel House at Trinity College has. From attending my first Shabbat as a freshman to leading services at my senior Shabbat as outgoing student president, Hillel continuously challenged me to think big, be a team player, use my imagination, and act as a fair leader.
I attended the Hillel Spitzer Social Justice Forum in Washington, DC as a sophomore with a cohort of Trinity Hillel colleagues. There, I met representatives from Sharsheret, an organization that provides women of all Jewish backgrounds who are diagnosed with or at increased genetic risk for breast cancer, with the support of networks of peers, health professionals and other resources. This meeting sparked an idea that October’s breast cancer awareness month could be an ideal opportunity for Hillel to collaborate with the entire campus, through a Pink Shabbat for breast cancer awareness. After pitching the idea to Lisa, Trinity College Hillel’s Executive Director, who was instantly supportive, I began reaching out to sororities, the Office of Community Service, and faculty in the sciences department. Today, eight years later, Pink Shabbat is an annual campus-wide event, through which women’s athletic teams, a cappella groups, and other faith-based organizations join together to raise awareness and funds for the cause, while participating in Hillel’s Shabbat traditions.
The tools I used to make Pink Shabbat a success – leadership, project management, relationship building, and creativity – are just a few of the skills I nurtured and practiced throughout my time at Hillel. Today, as a Jewish communal professional, I am continually tasked with transforming big picture ideas into real and measurable deliverables. Countless Hillel student board and event committee meetings taught me to never walk into a professional or lay leader meeting without an agenda (and enough copies for everyone at the table!). Collaborating with Hillel colleagues who were younger and older, from the East Coast, West Coast, or abroad, and who grew up with a range of Jewish traditions, taught me to listen to their perspectives, appreciate their goals, and efficiently delegate tasks. And through all the idea-generating meetings, time spent setting up and cleaning up, collaboration with other student groups, email blasts, and to-do lists, I gained far more professional experience than I’ve had at any internship or summer job.
Thus, just like Pink Shabbat’s long-lasting and transformative impact on Trinity’s campus, I know that my Hillel experience will continue to inspire me throughout my life.
Molly Goodwin, Trinity College ’09, manages the matching grants program at the Jewish Funders Network in New York City. She stays connected to the Trinity Bantams by leading Trinity College Hillel’s young alumni committee. Molly had the opportunity to reconnect with Sharsheret in 2013, while working at the Incubator in Jewish Federations of North America, where the organization was launched in 2001.