Top 10 Moments from the First 24 Hours of Hillel International’s Global Assembly (HIGA)



December 13, 2022

1. Welcome Back to HIGA!

A common theme among the opening speakers at HIGA 2022 was, as Skip Vichness, Chair of the Hillel International Board of Directors, put it, “Hinei matov u’mah naim shevet achim gam yachad.” How great is it to see 1,000 Hillel professionals and supporters from all over the world back together in one room after a three-year hiatus! The resilience and creativity of Hillel professionals and their commitment to Jewish students stayed strong throughout the last three years (and the last 100!).

HIGA Co-Chairs Adena Kirstein and Erez Cohen celebrating their Hillel colleagues

2. HIGA Co-Chairs Celebrate Hillel Professionals across the World

HIGA Co-Chair and Executive Director of George Washington University Hillel Adena Kirstein and HIGA Co-Chair and Executive Director of Hillel at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Erez Cohen opened HIGA 2022 with a tribute to their colleagues. As Kirstein and Cohen shared, dedicated Hillel professionals do everything from “dealing with an internet outage to texting a student in the hospital to asking for a million bucks. From digging up art supplies, to tracking Amazon packages, to supporting a student navigating a mental health crisis. And that can all be in one day!” There were many rounds of applause for the dedication, drive, and warmth of Hillel professionals around the world.  

3. A Room Full of New Faces

In the three years since the last in-person HIGA, many new faces have joined the Hillel movement. It was powerful to see so many of those new people stand up and be recognized at this year’s opening session. Hillel professionals have not only built student communities in difficult circumstances; they have also maintained and strengthened their professional relationships and communities even through the years of being apart. 

4. Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt Educates and Inspires

Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, spoke to Hillel stakeholders and professionals about the historical components of antisemitism, why it’s so important to fight it, and how important it is for Jewish people to find joy and pride in our traditions despite the hatred we may face. As Ambassador Lipstadt said, “We identify as Jews because of the magnificent, rich, and multifaceted tradition we own as ours.” Ambassador Lipstadt also stressed the importance of fighting hate wherever we find it: “With racism and antisemitism, if you want to fight one, you have to fight the other.”

Entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban Addresses Hillel Stakeholders and Professionals

5. Mark Cuban’s Got Thoughts on Gen Z

Entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner (and father of two college students) Mark Cuban spoke with Hillel stakeholders about the importance of being responsive to the unique needs of each group of students on campus. When working with Gen Z students, Cuban pointed out that, “every Gen Z student can tap into a global community on social media,” and it’s the job of Hillel professionals to help them deepen and enrich the experience of Jewish connection on campus. 

Visit a re-creation Hillel’s original location above a barbershop

6. Hillel is Thriving at 100

Why is there a reconstructed barbershop at HIGA? One hundred years ago, Hillel was founded in a small room over a barbershop at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and today, Hillel is celebrating its 100th birthday! In celebration of the past 100 years of Hillel and looking forward to the next 100 years and beyond, Hillel professionals spoke about what they’ve built on their campuses, how they’re thriving today, and how they’re looking to shape the next 100 years. 

7. The Promise of a New Generation

Hillel is not only celebrating the last 100 years, but also launching a $150 million campaign that will carry the movement forward into the next 100 years and beyond. Campus Hillels are working to craft campaigns that will serve their needs and help set them up for long-term success as the next century of Hillel starts to unfold. 

8. Holistic HIGA

In an exciting, intense experience like HIGA, it’s important to center wellness and different sensory and social needs. The wellness and low sensory room help address those different needs. Most importantly, the all-day coffee bar helps Hillel professionals be their best selves for connecting with each other and thinking about building the next 100 years of Hillel. 

Give it up for the Hillel House Band!

9. Hillel House Band was on Fire

After a rocking introduction from former President and CEO of Hillel International, Richard Joel and former Music Director of Hillel International, Moshe Shur, the Hillel House Band took the stage to play a flaming hot set, starting with “Ivdu Et Hashem B’Simcha” (Serve God with Joy – a Jewish golden oldie). The band had a warm welcome from the crowd and, as always, was a smoking success.

10. Hillel’s Brand Glow-Up

Hillel International’s refreshed brand is on display throughout HIGA and communicates Hillel’s ongoing commitment to innovation, inclusivity, and student voices. Hillel’s new branding is also on display at the HIGA swag bar, which is always a favorite stop.

Thank you to our HIGA 2022 Sponsors!