Q: Where were you born and where do you live?
A: I was born on the upper Eastside, and just moved from Scarsdale back to the city (yay!). I live in Flatiron.
Q: Tell us a bit about your professional background.
A: I worked in publishing, but for the past 25 years I have worked as a volunteer in the Jewish Community.
Q: Do you have children?
A: I have two children, and they’ve participated in Hillel – or so they say!
Q: How do you think Jewish life on campus has changed since you were a student?
Just like the clunky typewriter I used to write my thesis, Jewish life on campus then would be unrecognizable to today’s students (in a good way). Jewish students in 2018 are diverse, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and interfaith, and the cookie cutter lines of identity don’t apply. For some, college is the first time they’re engaging Jewishly and exploring what that means for them. There are so many ways to engage Jewishly – from showing up to Shabbat dinner, to going on Birthright, to engaging in Torah study, learning about Israel, baking Challah for Hunger, getting involved in social justice work and much more. And like the grande decaf soy latte, students craft their own individual Jewish identity that feels right for them.
Q: Why do you think Hillel’s work is crucial today?
A: There is a window between the time a child enters college and when they graduate as an adult that is concentrated, intense, and powerful. It’s a time of exploration, learning, and developing that shapes their identity, their social network, and their future. If we can touch students individually and help them explore new and innovative ways to connect Jewishly, and inspire them to make a commitment to Jewish life, learning and israel, we can literally change the Jewish future.
Q: What trends do you see right now in Hillel?
A: The most important thing Hillel is doing right now is recruiting and training the brightest talent to work with our students. We need knowledgable, dedicated professionals on the front lines engaging students and providing them with the tools to live meaningful Jewish lives. If we want to be successful, we have to invest in our professionals and enable them to grow and build their careers within the Hillel system.
Q: What kind of leaders and supporters does Hillel need to engage?
Hillel needs to engage a diverse universe of supporters and leaders who collectively have the skills, smarts and resources to advance our work. Every leader brings a different perspective, network, expertise and personal experience to this work and our success is dependent on strength through diversity.
Q: What are the most important skills our leaders need to help guide hillel through the 21st century?
A: These are complicated times on campus and the range of issues with which we are confronted are just as complex. From issues about israel to intersectionality to anti-semitism to #metoo, the conversations are varied and intense. Professional expertise in communications, public relations, law, as well as more traditional needs of expertise in accounting, hr, finance and fundraising are all critical. A road map of organizational Jewish life and deep relationships with foundations, federations, funders and other partners are equally important.