Deborah Kallick

Chancellors Society
“I believe that team work with our staff is the key ingredient to success.”
USC Hillel, Hillel 818, Hillel International

Q: Where were you born, and where do you live now?
A: I was born and raised in Los Angeles and still live about 5 miles from where I grew up.

Q: What is your profession?
A: I am the Vice President of Government and Industry Relations at Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles.

Q: Do you have children?
A: My husband Ivan and I have 2 sons, Spencer and Andrew. Spencer attended NU as an undergrad and is currently a lawyer practicing land use law in Los Angeles. He was very active at NU hillel—he attended Shabbat services, went on birthright, went on alternative spring break to Cuba and started a magazine and was the editor of Schmooz. Today he serves the NU Hillel Board. Andrew lives in Los Angeles and is currently starting a company called A Good Print.  He was involved at USC Hillel as a fresh fest counselor, started Trojan Hoops for Justice-3 on 3 basketball tournament which raised money for underprivileged to go to Troy Camp, baked Challah for Hunger every few weeks.

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?
A: My Mother was my biggest inspiration. She left Russia when she was 4 years old with her parents and ended up in Mexico City because of the quotas that were in place due to the Cable Act in the US. She finally came to the US and grew up here and went to Stanford University when there were quotas for women and Jews. She had three master’s degree and always encouraged me to do the best that I could and by example showed me the value of volunteerism.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever given?
A: Try out as many things as you possibly can so that you can use this time to explore and figure out what you want to do in the future.

Q: When was the first time you became active with Hillel, and what did you do?
A: When I was in college I was very active at Hillel at the Claremont Colleges. It was a place to hang out, experience Shabbat and be with friends from all the Claremont Colleges.

Q: What experiences from your past moved you to support Hillel?
A: When my son Spencer went to NU, the director Adam Simon asked me to be on the Parent Council and I once again got involved in Hillel. When my son Andrew was looking as USC, the director asked me to get involved with USC Hillel Board and I joined it. Today I am the proud chair of USC Hillel.

Q: How have you seen Hillel change as an organization over the time of your involvement?
A: When I was a student it was much more of a place to come celebrate Shabbat and holidays. Today it is so much more—there is a true social action and community focus. There is a also a strong link to supporting the State of Israel through the Birthright program and through campus programs.

Q: Hillel does so much on college campuses. What are the issues that are closest to your heart? 
A: I continue to be very concerned about the growth of the BDS movement!

Q: What role/s do you play as a supporter or leader with Hillel today?
A: I currently am the chair of USC Hillel, the vice chair of Hillel International, a member of the BOG of Hillel and the past chair of Hillel 818.

Q: What are you most proud of from your work with Hillel?
A: I am very proud that we were able to reinvigorate Hillel 818 with a new Director (we recruited David Katz from Hillel at Pitt) and formed a new Board of Directors. It continues to grow by leaps and bounds each year with student involvement and programing increasing as well as fundraising from the community.

Q: What trends do you see right now in Jewish life on campus?
A: Research shows that many students come from mixed marriages and many do not have a strong Jewish identity or background. College is a time of exploring and learning and I believe that some students begin their Jewish journey while in college.

Q: If you could impact one thing about Jewish life on campus, what would it be?
A: I hope that they will walk through the doors of Hillel and learn more about our programs, services and find out what a great place it is to “just hang out.”

Q: What do you think is Hillel’s greatest challenge for the 21stcentury?
A: Continue to grow our philanthropic support.

Q: How do you draw on your background as a leader to help your local Hillel’s governance?
A: I currently serve as the Chair of the board of USC Hillel. We are embarking on a major building and capital campaign and I am part of a team that is working on this exciting effort. I believe that team work with our staff is the key ingredient to success.

Q: What kind of leaders and supporters does Hillel need to engage?
A: We need to engage more young professionals whose enthusiasm and insights can help drive our agenda. They know what resonates well with college students since they are closer to that age group.

Q: What do you think Hillel’s lay leaders from different part of the globe can learn from each other?
A: We can share our experience of what has worked and what has not worked well—we can learn from each other and be a mentor to new board chairs and leaders.

Q: Has your work with Hillel connected you to other local and national leaders? What has it been like to meet them and work with them?
A: Definitely, I have met great lay leaders from around the globe and it has been most exciting. Recently I had the opportunity to meet all of the campus Directors of Hillel in Israel and it was wonderful to hear about the programs that they direct and the activities that they provide to students on their campuses. I even was able to participate with our students in Jerusalem at Machane Yehuda where they help the elderly carry their groceries to the bus station in exchange for a story about themselves.