Over the last 20 years, the Jewish community at Dartmouth College has experienced meaningful growth and success, helping a generation of Dartmouth College students build their Jewish identity and leadership skills. Now, the community is taking its next step forward with the launch of an independent Hillel.
Dartmouth College and Hillel International announced this week that Dartmouth College Hillel is transitioning from being part of the College into becoming its own independent non-profit organization, launching a new era of growth for Jewish life at Dartmouth.
With this new chapter, Dartmouth Hillel will join nearly all of its peer institutions as an independent Hillel driven by students, for students, and supported by professional staff, alumni, and the resources of Hillel International. In doing so, Dartmouth Hillel will be in a position to foster an even more vibrant Jewish community that will attract, retain, empower, and inspire Dartmouth students for generations to come.
Dartmouth Hillel’s day-to-day work, mission, and campus role will not change; it will remain an organization dedicated to providing resources to help students express and explore Judaism on campus.
As an independent organization, Dartmouth Hillel will be able to directly fundraise to support its operations, with the potential to fund increased staff support and resources.
Under the current structure, Dartmouth Hillel has had just two staff members, leaving student leaders to do everything from recruitment to executing programs from conception to clean up. Additional staff support under the new Hillel structure will take some of the daily responsibilities off students’ plate, allowing them to focus their time and energy on aspects of Jewish life they’re most passionate about.
“A Dartmouth term gets really busy, really quick,” said senior Becky Milner. “Having the resources to hire more staff means that Hillel student leaders will be more supported, empowering them to be able to plan, promote, and execute creative and meaningful Hillel programming, all while balancing schoolwork and other extracurriculars.”
An independent Dartmouth Hillel will also be better positioned for long-term continuity between generations of student leaders, ultimately leading to a stronger foundation of Jewish life on campus that will help attract and retain students interested in Jewish life to Dartmouth.
Hillel International President and CEO Adam Lehman, himself a Dartmouth alum, said he was very excited to see Dartmouth Hillel’s evolution.
“As someone who personally benefited from Jewish life experiences during my time at Dartmouth, I’m particularly excited for what this next phase in Dartmouth Hillel’s development will mean for Dartmouth’s Jewish students and the broader Dartmouth community,” Lehman said.
Independence from the university also allows for more opportunities for the Jewish alumni community to become engaged and make an impact on the lives of Jewish students at Dartmouth with new board, committee, and volunteer opportunities.
“This new chapter for Dartmouth Hillel motivates us to be even more ambitious than years prior in our programming, staff, and fundraising goals to further enable Hillel to support our students in any way we can, here in Hanover or across the world,” said Dartmouth Hillel Board Chair Evan Konwiser, who is leading the transition.
“This is an opportune time to invest in Jewish life at Dartmouth through one’s talent, time and financial generosity. A flourishing Hillel should never be taken for granted – it takes many dedicated individuals to safeguard our community for generations to come,” Konwiser said.
Students are excited for Dartmouth Hillel’s future as well as an independent organization.
“I chose to attend Dartmouth because the College prioritizes building strong communities across campus,” senior Julia Gergely said. “I immediately found that community for myself in the Jewish life at Dartmouth College Hillel — people who want to celebrate Jewish holidays and Shabbat, classmates who I could stay up late to study with, and friends who helped me grow into the person I am.
“I know that Hillel will continue to provide a space for Jewish students that feels like home, and I can’t wait to see how Hillel grows to support students in new ways in the coming years.”