This story originally appeared in the fall 2016 issue of the Hillel College Guide.
When Eden Rubin heard about the Ruderman Inclusion Ambassadors program, which launched in September, she asked the staff at Hillel 818, in Northridge, Calif., what it was all about.
“They told me that it’s going to be inclusion work, and I said, ‘Absolutely. Sign me up. What do I do?’” she said.
Rubin (California State University, Northridge, ’17) was a Hillel engagement intern in the 2015-16 academic year. This year she is one of eight students in the first cohort of the Ruderman Inclusion Ambassadors program.
The Inclusion Ambassadors, made possible thanks to a new partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation, have launched groundbreaking new conversations about disability inclusion at Hillel. Ambassadors will work the same way engagement interns do, reaching out to students with disabilities to involve them in Hillel and Jewish life.
Rubin plans to focus her work on the deaf student population on her California State University campus. “We have a big deaf student group on campus, and in the past they haven’t really been involved in anything Jewish because there haven’t been any resources,” said Rubin. “One of my goals is to have an interpreter at almost every event, so we can reach out to deaf Jewish students to come to the events and feel more welcomed.”
“Students are going to be working with the disability center on campus,” said Ruth Ferguson, Hillel program associate for social entrepreneurship. “They’ll reach students we aren’t already reaching.”
The program is a way to show “how the Hillel community can be more inclusive in a general sense,” Ferguson said. “How they can be more accommodating and more thoughtful and understanding for every Jewish student.”