October 22, 2019

Hillel Hires Reform Rabbis for UCLA, Brandeis

Hillel International logo.
Hillel International announced the hiring of two Reform rabbis to work as Senior Jewish Educators at UCLA and Brandeis University to strengthen Jewish life on college campuses by helping students to understand what it means to be Jewish and working with students to incorporate Judaism into their lives. The new positions were made possible due to a grant from Central Synagogue to Hillel International in partnership with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). 
“We are excited to partner with Hillel International and Central Synagogue to encourage inspiring Jewish educators to work on campus and support the next generation of Jewish life and foster the future of Reform Jewish leadership on the college campus and in North America as a whole,” HUC-JIR’s President Andrew Rehfeld said in a statement to the Journal.
The multi-year grant of $1.4 million from Central Synagogue’s Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein Fund for the Renaissance of Reform Judaism provides training, placement and support to HUC-JIR graduates who hope to become Hillel Senior Jewish Educators on college campuses in America.
“I’m honored that Central Synagogue members chose to create this grant to support the growth of vibrant Jewish programming on college campuses and the training of future Reform Jewish leadership,” Rabbi Emeritus Peter J. Rubinstein of Central Synagogue said. “This innovative collaboration between Hillel and HUC-JIR enables Reform rabbi educators to strengthen Jewish engagement, celebrations and learning for college students in service of their Jewish future and our people’s unparalleled mission.”
HUC-JIR graduates Rabbi Alex Kress and Rabbi Evan Sheinhait will join the UCLA Hillel and Brandies University Hillel staffs this upcoming fall. Rabbi Eric L. Abbott was hired as a Senior Jewish Educator last year through this grant and will be returning to Johns Hopkins University Hillel. The grant will also allow three rabbinic interns to serve on The Ohio State University, Princeton University and University of Southern California campuses.
“This partnership between Hillel International and HUC-JIR, with the support of the Central Synagogue grant, allows us to provide rabbinical role models who will be accessible to a diverse range of Jewish students on campus,” Hillel International’s interim CEO Adam Lehman said. “Our mission is to enrich the lives of Jewish students so that they may in turn enrich the Jewish people and the world. These Senior Jewish Educators will do just that, by engaging Jewish students and strengthening their connection to Jewish life, learning and Israel.”
On average, each Senior Jewish Educator connects 200 students to Jewish life per year, according to Hillel International’s research. “The effect of an educator is much greater on a student with little or no prior involvement with Hillel or those with less developed Jewish backgrounds,” Hillel International said in the statement.