Last week, December 14-15, 2020, Hillel International hosted its first virtual, seventh annual Hillel International Global Assembly (HIGA) and fourth Global Leadership Conference (GLC). The Global Assembly brings together Hillel professionals from around the globe for professional development, networking, and continuing education. The GLC presents a unique opportunity for Hillel’s volunteers leaders and supporters to connect with each other and Hillel’s professional leadership. In all, there were almost 1,000 registrants between the two events.
In an exciting pre-show prior to the conference, six Hillel professionals put their Jewish geography to the test in a battle to see ‘Who Knows One.’
Day one of HIGA featured an exciting and inspiring opening plenary, featuring speeches by lay leaders, board members, the co-presidents of the Hillel International Student Cabinet and a keynote address by President and CEO of Hillel International, Adam Lehman. In his speech, Lehman overviewed the year and highlighted the tremendous efforts by Hillel professionals to support and engage students even amidst the pandemic. He tied this message of hope to the timely celebration of Chanukah, and to a concept first described by Hillel International’s namesake, Beit Hillel, who stated that, “in matters of holiness, we should always seek to increase the light.”
The plenary concluded with the presentation of awards recognizing campuses and professionals for their efforts, including the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award – the highest honor bestowed by Hillel International, and the newly created 2020 Award.
After the ceremony, participants moved into Zoom breakout rooms for “hallway networking,” a virtual solution to the traditional meet-and-greet of in-person conferences. The morning of day two also featured an opportunity for connection, with registrants participating in role-based cohorts to connect, brainstorm, and problem solve with other professionals with the same job title or interests.
A short but very sweet and fun Global Assembly concluded on day two with a jam-packed closing plenary, featuring trivia, the return of the Hillel House Band, and a very special guest appearance from “some friends who are experts in office life.”
While the main conference events took place only on Monday and Tuesday, the overall assembly lasted a little longer, just as the jar of oil for light in the Chanukah story. The main conference was proceeded by HIGA+, a week of workshops sessions covering the topics of Unteachable Torah and Sharing Success, which took place December 7-10.
Thank you to our 2020 HIGA Sponsors: Onward Israel, BICEP Powered by Seed the Dream Foundation, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Avani Dead Sea, JTS: The Jewish Theological Seminary, Alpha Epsilon Phi, Sigma Delta Tau, Zeta Beta Tau and Gift of Life.