Jewish millennials say Mosaic United programming can connect students to Judaism



May 1, 2018

As a Springboard Fellow, Emily Halpern has worked to meet students where they are — physically and emotionally — as they explore their Jewish identity at George Washington University Hillel.

The 24-year-old was one of three young Jewish women to serve on a panel titled “Can We Work Together to Engage Students on Campus? An Inside Look with Mosaic United.” The roughly one-hour session, a highlight of The Jerusalem Post annual conference on Sunday, explored how programs supported by Mosaic United have helped the women connect to Judaism. 

“To be able to look at leadership in my organization and know that they are coming from a place deeply rooted in Jewish values makes me incredibly proud to tell the story of what we’re doing,” she said.

Mosaic United, the flagship initiative of Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, has partnered with Hillel International, Chabad on Campus and Olami to increase their student-driven efforts, working to engage Diaspora Jewry on campus and strengthen their relationship with the State of Israel.

Rabbi Benjamin Levy, CEO of Mosaic United, interviewed the panelists, including Halpern, a Hillel International Springboard Fellow, Devon Smith, an alumna of Chabad on Campus’ Sinai Scholars course, and Caroline Stern, a participant in the Olami-affiliated fellowship Meor. The programs are funded in part by the Mosaic United campus pillar.

“The Jewish people of tomorrow are the Jewish youth of today,” Rabbi Levy said.

This year, Mosaic United has invested $12 million in matching grants to its campus partners, reaching 22,000 students at nearly 400 colleges and universities around the world, according to Hillel International. 

Halpern said financial support is key as Mosaic United looks toward the future of student engagement on campus.

“We need to double down on the funding given to student leaders to enable them to reach their peers and continue peer-to-peer engagement,” she said.

More than 1,000 members of the Jewish community, including Hillel students and professionals, listened to the panelists speak at the Marriott Marquis in New York City.

Ross Beroff, a first-time attendee and Northeastern Hillel student, said he appreciated hearing from leaders who are working toward making a difference in the Jewish world.

“What they’re doing has the potential to transform the Jewish future,” Beroff said.

After the session, Hofstra Hillel student Mitch Podgorowiez was honored for his commitment to Jewish life on campus with the Certificate of Excellence, presented by Mosaic United and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.