Hillel International Announces 2023 Student Leadership Scholarship Recipients



June 26, 2023

2023 Hillel International Scholarship Recipients

Students from Texas, Florida, Maryland, Arizona, and Nevada honored for their leadership, receive $3,000 and $5,000 awards

Hillel International, the world’s largest Jewish campus organization, has selected five young leaders, three in high school and two in college, to receive scholarship awards in recognition of their leadership, volunteerism, and commitment to their communities. The $3,000 and $5,000 awards are designated for eligible students who identify as Jewish and are attending or preparing to attend four-year colleges and universities or graduate school in the United States and Canada.

This year’s recipients of the new Handeli First-Year Student Scholarship of $3,000 per year up to four years are Maya Friedberg, an incoming undergraduate student at Middlebury College, of Bellaire, Texas; and Salomon Bibas, an incoming undergraduate student at the University of Florida, of Miami, Florida. The recipient of this year’s Jules and Gwen Knapp First-Generation Student Scholarship of $3,000 per year for up to four years is Lia Abuhsira, an incoming undergraduate student at Fordham University, of Clarksburg, Maryland. For this year’s Jules and Gwen Knapp Campus Leadership Award of $3,000 per year for up to three years, Hillel International has selected Victoria Yusupova, a rising college senior at Arizona State University studying psychology and sociology, of Vali, Arizona. The Hillel Graduate Student Award of $5,000 has been awarded to Miriam Borvick, an incoming graduate student at University of Nevada, Las Vegas of Las Vegas, Nevada. 

“Student leaders are at the center of the Hillel movement, and this year’s scholarship recipients have already demonstrated a meaningful commitment to their communities and to the Jewish people,” said Hillel International President and CEO Adam Lehman. “This year’s recipients of the Hillel International scholarships are true embodiments of tikkun olam, repairing the world by working toward positive change.”

Maya Friedberg is a passionate advocate for gun violence prevention from Bellaire, Texas, who will be attending Middlebury College this year. She started the Emery/Weiner Students Demand Action (SDA) Chapter, a branch of the national organization Everytown for Gun Safety, testified in the Texas capitol, attended a number of rallies around the state, and met with elected officials and journalists from across the country. Her Jewish identity inspires her commitment to justice and vital efforts to enact gun safety legislation in her home state of Texas and across the country.      

Reflecting on what inspires her work preventing gun violence, “What has motivated me to join this movement is the Jewish values instilled in me. The Hebrew phrase Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof translates to ‘Justice, Justice, you shall pursue,’ and we are instructed to do so by G-d in the Book of Deuteronomy. Leading my life based on the values derived from Jewish leaders and civil rights activists is truly what has led me to be here today.”

From a young age, Salomon Bibas’s parents instilled in him a strong sense of tikkun olam, repairing the world, and making an impact in the lives of others in any way possible. To support people in need in his home country of Venezuela, Salomon collected medical supplies and toys to send to the country’s Bikur Cholim. Salomon also designed an app to help people, like his father, who have had larynx surgery, communicate with a voice similar to the one they had prior to the operation. He hopes to pursue a career in engineering to continue making a difference in the lives of more people through inclusive technology.

Thinking about what has motivated his work over the years, Salomon said, “This experience of contributing even in a relatively small measure to such a great problem, made me think about my parents. They are models of resilience in overcoming adversities while also giving me unconditional love. They taught me to treasure our heritage and to always remember where we come from while modeling tikkun olam, which means ‘heal the world, a central value of Judaism.” 

Motivated by her own personal hardship, Lia Abuhsira advocates for individuals with type one diabetes. She mobilized a group that helped secure greater federal funding for type one diabetes research and provides support for others living with the same diagnosis in her community. Given her family’s connection to the Israel Defense Forces, Lia also organized an event with the Israeli Embassy to the United States to honor the service of Israeli veterans. 

A first-generation college student, Lia intends to continue serving as a champion for others in her community. “I find myself in disbelief at how thankful I am for my diagnosis. It has brought forth an everlasting drive to advocate for my community and fuelled me to march around with an air of relentless audacity toward igniting change in the world. This is just the beginning,” Lia said. 

Victoria Yusupova is Arizona State University’s Director of Internal Operations for Undergraduate Student Government (USG), where she organized important events, bringing the campus together on topics ranging from women’s leadership to mental health. In response to two opioid-related deaths on campus, she urged the university to fund and provide training for the distribution of Narcan, an opioid overdose treatment, in all residence halls.

As an intern in the Arizona State Senate, Victoria worked for one of her role models in public service who inspired her own journey as a leader on campus. “This experience taught me the strength of vulnerability and the importance of sharing one’s own story so that others can feel comfortable coming to you for support. She ultimately demonstrated that empathy is a fundamental trait of a successful leader,” said Victoria.

To provide evidence-based health education to Orthodox Jewish communities, Miriam Borvick developed community health programs across Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Rockland County that provided culturally-attuned, evidence-based health education. Since starting the programs last summer, Miriam has overseen over $700,000 in grants, managed over 60 volunteers, and organized over 100 in-person events.

Miriam believes that some of the greatest impact of her work is empowering the volunteers and staff she works with at the Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association. “I relish the moments when my volunteers share with me that a community member felt heard, that their questions were answered or they experienced a connection with the physician speaker who presented the lecture. Those reflections from community members tell me that we are succeeding in building back trust and safeguarding the health outcomes of our community in a way that no other organization is doing,” said Miriam.

Hillel International also offers a comprehensive Scholarships Portal, which lists over 650 scholarships for Jewish students graduating high school, or in undergraduate and graduate programs. Applications for the 2024-25 school year Campus Leadership and Handeli First-Year scholarships will open this winter and students can apply through March 1, 2024.