Hillel professionals, campuses honored at Hillel International Global Assembly



December 5, 2017

Hillel International presented more than 25 awards to its talented professionals and innovative campuses at its fourth-annual Global Assembly, held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. More than 1,100 professionals, stakeholders and partners attended the conference, the organization’s largest gathering to date.

Hillel recognized five campus professionals on Tuesday with the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award for their excellence in engaging students and building dynamic Jewish communities on campus. Awardee Rabbi Josh Bolton, senior Jewish educator at Penn Hillel, was hailed as a social media pioneer for his ability to engage students in thought-provoking conversations about Judaism, “mixing humor and pathos, light and dark, prayer and poetry, the secular and the religious.” Rabbi Bolton was also lauded for being an accessible figure on campus — a rabbi who strives to connect, educate and inspire each student.

Another recipient, Simcha Masala, Jewish Agency Israel Fellow at Northwestern Hillel, was honored for her commitment to fostering a pro-Israel community on campus. She worked tirelessly with a committee of almost 20 students to transform the Hillel’s annual Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration into Northwestern Israel Week, an event featuring celebration, commemoration and conversation.

In addition, 21 Hillels were recognized for numerous achievements, including creativity in fundraising, efforts to collaborate with campus organizations and innovative engagement methods. Berkeley Hillel was awarded the Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Innovation Award for creating a new model of engagement that incorporates some of the movement’s most successful strategies into a 10-week educational fellowship. 

MIT Hillel and the Brody Jewish Center of the University of Virginia received the Outstanding Campus Award. These campus Hillels successfully engaged 70 percent of the Jewish undergraduate students on campus at least once and engaged 30 percent of Jewish undergraduate students in either six or more experiences or one high-impact program. Student surveys from both universities show that the Hillels have strongly impacted students’ commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel.

Several longtime Hillel professionals were honored for serving campus Jewish communities from the United States to Russia.

Below is a complete list of the winners:

Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award Recipients

Benjie Kaplan, Executive Director at Minnesota Hillel

Jillian Juni, Associate Director at Santa Barbara Hillel

Lisa Kassow, Director at Trinity College Hillel

Rabbi Josh Bolton, Senior Jewish Educator at Penn Hillel

Simcha Masala, Jewish Agency Israel Fellow at Northwestern Hillel

Campus Award Recipients

The Campus Partnership Award: Hillel at Maryville University and The Oregon Hillel Foundation

The Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Innovation Award: Berkeley Hillel

The Innovation in Fundraising Award: Hillel Milwaukee and Arizona State University Hillel

The Israel Education and Engagement Award: Hillel Ontario

The Great Place to Work Award: San Francisco Hillel

The Joseph Meyerhoff Award for Jewish Educational Vision: Hillel Rio

The Phillip H. and Susan Rudd Cohen Outstanding Campus Award: Brody Jewish Center at University of Virginia and MIT Hillel

The Award for Strengthening the Global Hillel Movement: Santa Cruz Hillel, Chico Hillel, Berkeley Hillel, San Francisco Hillel, Hillel of Sonoma County, Hillel of Silicon Valley, Hillel at Stanford, Hillel at Davis and Sacramento, Hillel CASE, Hillel Russia, Hillel Israel

Milestone Award Recipients

Cindy Spungin, Associate Director at Brandeis Hillel

Nadya Drukker, Executive Director at Tanger Hillel at Brooklyn College

Rabbi Bruce Bromberg Seltzer, Jewish Advisor and Hillel Director at Amherst College


About Hillel International
Founded in 1923, Hillel has been enriching the lives of Jewish students for more than 90 years. Today, Hillel International is a global organization that welcomes students of all backgrounds and fosters an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. Hillel is dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. As the largest Jewish student organization in the world, Hillel builds connections with emerging adults at more than 550 colleges and universities, and inspires them to direct their own path. During their formative college years, students are challenged to explore, experience, and create vibrant Jewish lives.