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Hillel International Honors Exceptional Professionals and Campuses

by Hillel News | Dec 7, 2016 |

At Global Assembly in Orlando, largest Jewish campus organization recognizes contributions of outstanding individuals, exemplary campus Hillels

ORLANDO – Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, this week presented awards to recognize individuals and campus Hillels that best exemplify the movement’s mission – to enrich the lives of Jewish students so they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. The awards, which also recognize those who reflect Hillel’s culture of excellence, were presented at Hillel International’s annual Global Assembly in Orlando, attended by Hillel professionals from around the world as an opportunity for professional development, networking and Jewish learning.

“This year’s winners serve as a model of how enthusiasm and dedication can help campus Hillels across the country succeed in engaging and educating students, no matter their size or location,” said Eric D. Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International. “We’re proud of our professionals for the work they do every day to help achieve Hillel International’s mission of reaching every Jewish student on campus.”

The Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award is given to professionals in various stages of their careers. While those honored hold different positions and represent a variety of campus communities, they all share a passion for enriching the lives of Hillel students and ensuring that the organization reflects a culture of excellence.

The 2016 recipients of the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award are:

  • Ari Gauss, Executive Director, North Carolina Hillel, serving 15 campuses across the state
  • Jason Oruch, Executive Director, University of Hartford Hillel
  • Rachel Nilson, Assistant Director, San Francisco Hillel
  • Ethan Sobel, Assistant Director, Boston University Hillel
  • Melissa Kansky, Director of Jewish engagement, Hillel at University of Virginia
  • Karem Sandgarten, Director of Finance and Operations, University of Miami Hillel
  • Rabbi Andrea Steinberger, University of Wisconsin Hillel
  • Irina Dobkina, Executive Director, St. Petersburg Hillel in Russia

Drive to Excellence Awards recognize campus Hillels that exemplify the mission of Hillel International in its continuous efforts to identify and implement best practices to engage every Jewish student.


The 2016 Drive to Excellence Award winners are:      

  • The Joseph Meyerhoff Award for Jewish Educational Vision: University of Missouri, Columbia Hillel, and Hillel at the George Washington University
  • The Great Place to Work Award: U.C. Berkeley Hillel
  • The Israel Education and Engagement Award: Goucher College Hillel, and the Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan
  • The Innovation in Fundraising Award: Hillel Ontario
  • The Award for Strengthening the Global Hillel Movement: the partnership of the Hillels of MIT and The Technion in Israel
  • The Campus Partnership Award: University of Delaware Hillel
  • The Phillip H and Susan Rudd Cohen Outstanding Campus Award: Metro Chicago Hillel, and University of Maryland Hillel
  • The Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Innovation Award: Hillel Russia

The awards came at the end of a significant week for Hillel International. On Monday evening, Hillel launched its Hillel Talent Grants, a new initiative which will infuse campus Hillels with the resources needed to recruit, train and retain talented professionals who will inspire every Jewish student to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. The $38 million program, funded through a multi-year gift from The Marcus Foundation, will award grants to local Hillels tailored to each campus’ specific needs to advance their path toward excellence.

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