Hillel International Launches Extensive Professional Development Program to Train Future Jewish Leaders



November 15, 2016

Hillel International continues to revolutionize the development of its professional staff through the launch of Hillel U, a cutting-edge professional continuing education program that will be among the most extensive in the Jewish communal world. Hillel U will enhance Hillel’s ability to retain top tier talent, and allow it to better serve students on hundreds of campuses across the country and around the world. The program, which is initially funded with $10 million in new investments, will launch at the Hillel International Global Assembly in Orlando next month.

“Hillel U will incorporate immersive experiences as well as high-quality distance learning programs modeled after top programs in the academic, corporate and non-profit world,” said Eric D. Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International. “By investing in our professionals, Hillel U will amplify Hillel’s impact worldwide and raise the bar of workplace culture and professionalism throughout the Hillel movement and the Jewish non-profit sector at large.”

Thanks in part to a launch gift from The Leonard J. Kaplan Fund of the Jewish Foundation of Greensboro, Hillel U will build community and collaboration among the 1,000 professionals working for Hillel on campus and its Schusterman International Center through in-person and online courses, convenings and immersive experiences.

The first phase of Hillel U will establish the Center for Jewish and Israel Education, funded through a multi-year grant from the Maimonides Fund. This Center will be the largest within Hillel U, and will have the capacity to engage 1,000 Hillel professionals in Jewish learning each year. Trainings will enhance Hillel professionals’ Jewish fluency, as well as the educational skills needed to make Jewish life exciting and relevant for young Jews. The Center will be led by Abigail Dauber Sterne, Hillel International’s Vice President for Jewish Education.

Hillel is also immediately launching the Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Supervisory Leadership Program, in memory of Leonard and Tobee Kaplan, who championed the importance of Hillel and investing in its professional staff. This program will train Hillel professionals in supervision and personnel management skills to make Hillels even greater places to work.

“I believe strongly that excellent people drive excellent organizations,” said Randall Kaplan, former Chair of Hillel International’s Board of Directors and Board of Governors. “Hillel U and the Kaplan Supervisory Leadership Program will develop Hillel professionals who can take campus programs to the next level and inspire more students to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel.”

As Hillel U expands, future phases will launch centers focused on Management and Leadership, Young Adult Engagement and Development, and Volunteer Leadership. When fully operational, Hillel U will strive to engage all Hillel professionals in at least three professional development experiences each year.

“We believe Hillel U will be a premier professional training institute in the non-profit sector,” said Adina Danzig Epelman, Hillel International’s Vice President of Talent Growth. “Hillel U will develop shared culture, values and best practices, as well as improve retention, recruitment, employee engagement and performance across the Hillel movement.”

With Hillel U, Hillel International will attract more talented professionals to the Hillel movement, support their training and success on campus, and ultimately benefit the entire Jewish world as these well-trained, talented professionals go on to serve other positions throughout the Jewish non-profit sector. Hillel is the largest entry-level employer among major Jewish organizations, and Hillel’s top professionals are sought after by foundations, federations, schools, camps and synagogues. 

“Hillel U is an important step forward in building a professional staff steeped in Jewish literacy and prepared to use those skills to empower Jewish students on campus,” said Mark Charendoff, President of the Maimonides Fund. “By being one of the first points of contact in terms of young Hillel professionals’ training, we hope the Hillel U Center for Jewish and Israel Education will help to shape the future of Jewish professional leadership for years to come.”

Hillel International has made recruiting, retaining and developing talent a top priority in its Drive to Excellence strategic plan. Hillel launched the Springboard Fellowship earlier this year to recruit and train young Jewish professionals in highly valued skillsets and place them on local Hillel campuses. Hillel recently partnered with Mosaic United to expand resources available to campuses to recruit senior Jewish educators. And Hillel joined with Moishe House and BBYO to form the Talent Alliance, in partnership with The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, to collectively attract and retain talented employees.