With a focus on relationships and not on participation, Northeastern Hillel creates vibrant, relevant, Jewish life across campus. We are interested in enhancing the accessibility of Jewish experiences for students as they first arrive on campus through conversations with their peers. The First Year Engagement Initiative will employ a cohort of students (engagement fellows) with broad social networks to build relationships with uninvolved Jewish first-year students over the course of the year. Each engagement fellow will be charged with building relationships with uninvolved Jewish students on campus. Serving as a resource to meaningful opportunities, the fellows will strive to advance Jewish values in the context of their relationships. Their goal will be striving to understand students' interests, passions, and aspirations – and connect them to opportunities that they may find meaningful and engaging. Engagement fellows will be given a budget to plan initiatives that they identify as relevant and Jewish, enable them to meet uninvolved Jewish students and follow-up with them in an authentic, comfortable, and open way. We anticipate that this new initiative will provide on-going relationship-building, especially as follow-up to immersive and meaningful experiences such as Alternative Break trips. Please help us invest in our student leaders by laying the groundwork on campus that will give them the skills to create accessible Jewish experiences with and for their post-college communities. We understand that the success of this initiative depends upon deep and meaningful supervision. The staff of Northeastern Hillel, including Northeastern University’s Jewish Spiritual Advisor, Engagement Director, Israel Coordinator and Executive Director (a Jewish Organizing Initiative-trained community organizer) will each play a role in mentoring and teaching the interns.
Hillel helps students find a balance in being distinctively Jewish and universally human by encouraging them to pursue Torah (Jewish learning), Avodah (Service) and Gemilut Chasadim (Acts of loving-kindness), and to support Israel and global Jewish peoplehood.
The measurable goals for our First-Year Engagement Initiative are:
1) Contact all incoming Jewish students by personal letter, email, and phone call prior to the beginning of the Fall semester
2) Welcome incoming Jewish students through welcome events and welcome packets.
3) Extend invitations for “coffee” meetings to 75% of first-year Jewish students during the Fall semester
4) Host a minimum of three events during the Fall semester for first-year Jewish students
5) Involve 50% of new Jewish students reached in at least one Hillel event during the Fall semester
Others in the field have staff-initiated programs that they then set about trying to market to student leaders, selling them a “product.” Our innovative, student-centered approach sets us apart. We believe each person who walks through the door brings a fresh opportunity to shape the organization from within. Students identify the programming themes for the year and brainstorm, build, and run the programs, working through our 32-student strong student board as well as through the leadership of unaffiliated Northeastern students. Students run the board meetings, decide on the initiatives undertaken, and make them happen. Program staff assist students in thinking through strategy by asking questions, encouraging students to come up with the answers. Staff at Northeastern Hillel serve a role generally more typical of consultants, coaches, facilitators, and cheerleaders. We honor the knowledge and know-how that the students walk through the door with, and give them the Jewish education, resources, and connections to help them succeed. We teach them, but they teach us too. It’s truly a partnership.
You have the power to shift the way that we engage the next generation of Jewish leaders—respecting that they have something unique and worthwhile to contribute NOW. Together we can change the Jewish future, one student at a time. And it all begins with your gift!
Northeastern’s interactive performance art piece, was taped for inclusion in a music video, featuring former American Idol contestant Brett Loewenstern, which can be viewed here
At the end of the video, the joyful crowd forms a “live menorah,” comprised of students, sending a resounding message of support for the Northeastern community’s commitment to diversity. The menorah was created in the spirit of President Aoun’s “State of the University” speech in October, where he mandated that Northeastern University:
“…be a model of diversity, not just among universities, but in society. We are, and must continue to be, a place where every student, faculty, colleague, and staff member feels welcome, regardless of her background, beliefs or faith. We must continue to be a place where a culture of respect prevails in all that we do…”
Hillel is proud that through its celebration, it was able to give body to President Aoun’s words.
There are many individual events/projects that would be a great fit for partnering with youth i.e. decorating the campus sukkah together, enjoying a meal in the sukkah together, doing a canned food drive using the sukkah as a central gathering area, etc. Please contact us to explore the potential to collaborate on an event together on a topic of mutual interest—i.e. environment, Jewish holidays, tzedek project, etc. You can view some of our existing events on our website and FB page. Our events are driven by our students’ interests and passions and we welcome opportunities for collaboration, and your participation!
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