Hillel Shaped Startup Founder’s Life – Now He’s Paying it Forward



July 9, 2024

Young people aren’t just the future of the Jewish community — they’re future supporters of Hillel International, making the work we do on college campuses possible for years to come. 

So what makes young people decide to give back and invest in Hillel? For Jason Kuperberg, an entrepreneur and co-founder of OthersideAI, the experiences he had at Hillel as an undergraduate at Syracuse University were so transformative that he wanted to pay it forward.

“I never would have seen myself getting involved with Jewish life until I started connecting with Hillel,” he said. “But because I did, and the right people were there, and I was able to connect with them, it made such a difference. And I want that for every other Jewish student.”

Jason’s Hillel journey began during his sophomore year of college in 2016. He entered Syracuse planning to study biotech and go on to medical school. But while he was excelling in his classes and working in a lab, he found himself stuck in a routine that didn’t inspire him. 

A semester abroad in Sydney, Australia helped  Jason develop a new perspective on what he had considered to be the markers of success. He realized he didn’t want to spend his time isolated in a lab doing research — he wanted to be out having fun and building things for his community. 

“Doing that research work is so important,” he said. “But I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. It wasn’t the future I wanted to build for myself.”

When he got back to Syracuse, Jason decided to explore new things. He got involved in two communities on campus: the entrepreneurship/startup community, and Hillel.

“From that point on, those two communities and the people and projects within them were where I focused all of my energy for the entire second half of my undergraduate career,” Jason said. “Everything I did, all the people that I was friends with, everything I spent my time on — it was all for those communities.”

Jason dove into Hillel headfirst, quickly becoming a student leader and building close relationships with the Hillel staff. Toward the end of his college experience, as he was  determining what to do next, it was those relationships that changed the trajectory of his life.

“It would have made sense to work for a big tech company, but I didn’t want to just focus on optimizing one little button for the rest of my life,” he said. Instead, he sought guidance from Rabbi Leah Fein, the campus rabbi and interim executive director of Syracuse Hillel. 

“I remember saying, ‘Okay, these are the two communities I care about, and I don’t really want to just do research,’” Jason said. “And I was like, ‘I wish there was a way to combine these two things.’ And [Rabbi Fein] said, ‘Well, there’s actually a Hillel fellowship that does exactly that.’”

That program was the Springboard Fellowship, a cohort-based, paid, two-year fellowship that brings together early career professionals to make Jewish life engaging and inclusive for college students. Jason ended up spending two years, from 2018-2020, as the Springboard Innovation Fellow at Stanford University, helping to empower Jewish undergrads to find their voice and inspiring their Jewish journeys.

“I think it was valuable for our students to see someone like me, who had a background that was maybe not as religiously focused, or wasn’t necessarily on a Jewish nonprofit career path, but who still chose to do this,” Jason said. “Even if it was only for two years, I was able to pass along the experiences that I had when I was a student.”

While Jason knew he wasn’t a “Jewish nonprofit lifer,” he credits his time with Hillel as setting him on the path to staying involved with Jewish life and the Jewish community. 

After his time at Stanford, Jason founded HyperWrite, a leading AI writing platform with over a million users. He was later named to the 2024 Forbes “30 Under 30 list for Consumer Technology.” When he realized he was in a position to give back to the communities that shaped his career, he decided to join the board of Syracuse Hillel, bringing a young, fresh perspective to the work. 

“For me, it’s all about relationships and community,” he said. “In startups, you identify the problem you’re trying to solve and who you’re trying to solve it for. We can best serve undergraduates in the Jewish community using the exact same approach. As a student leader, I learned everyone needed something different from their Hillel experience in order to get connected, and I wanted to help them find it.”

Now, as a generous and dedicated Hillel supporter, he hopes to bring those types of transformative Jewish experiences to as many students as possible. 

“When I was going into my undergraduate experience, I would never have foreseen this path ahead of me,” he said. “And it was because I met the right people at Hillel that it happened. So how can we make that happen for as many students as possible, whatever their need for connection might be?”

For Jason, the answer is in investing in Hillel’s capacity to hire more staff, in order to expand the resources and opportunities that campus communities can offer their Jewish students. 

“If we can increase the possibility that every Jewish student will have the opportunity to make the right connection for them, to have the most positive experience — that’s the dream. That’s what we want to accomplish,” he said.

Read our Humans of Hillel stories to learn more about the students, professionals, and Hillel community members whose lives have been impacted by Hillel.