By David Bowman
After just a 10-minute conversation with Aaron Czinn, it’s clear that he’s a socially conscious individual who has already made a difference at this university.
Growing up in New Jersey as a Modern Orthodox kid in a Conservative Jewish day school, Czinn was attracted to this university’s diverse Jewish community. Now a senior, Czinn is an active member of that community.
Once a month, on the edge of campus, a wide assortment of Jewish students from all different denominations gathers for communal Shabbat in the Hillel. Hosted by the Committee for Religious Life — an organization led by Czinn — the event seeks to create an inclusive environment for all Jewish students on campus.
“I think coming from those different communities gave me insight into other ways of doing things,” said Czinn. “We really try to bridge the gaps between different types of Jews.”
As the leader of CRL, he uses his personal experiences to connect with people from various Jewish backgrounds and engage in a dialogue about religion. And it seems to be working. Czinn has breathed new life into the organization.
And according to his friends, Daniel Burdugo and Hannah Elovitz, he has made huge improvements to the organization. Burdugo, who served on the committee the year before Czinn, said that attendance at the Communal Kabbalat Shabbat has increased since Czinn joined.
“He joined last year, and the other members encouraged him to lead,” Elovitz said. “He really did everything he could to bring the organization back.”
Czinn’s work with the committee is “probably what I’m most known for,” he said. But there’s more to his work on campus than what he does at Hillel.
Originally a marketing major, Czinn added information systems as a second major simply because he loves technology — even though he doesn’t intend to pursue that field.
This semester, he started an internship with RedPeg Marketing, an experiential advertising company concerned with turning a brand into an interactive experience for consumers.
“My title is ‘strategy and brand-planning intern,’ which basically means I’ll do research on a client then use that to design an advertising strategy in an experiential way,” Czinn said.
A charismatic student, Czinn has always liked getting to know people, but he’s discovered that actually going out and helping them is even more rewarding. And according to Elovitz, he’s always been willing to help others.
In fact, he’s already started using his major to give back to the community. As a member of the Food Recovery Network, he helps the university’s dining halls recover unsold food and donate it to area homeless shelters.
Outlining the benefits of the Food Recovery Network, Czinn recently created a brief video using narration over stop-motion pictures, which ended up winning $15,000 for the group in a social entrepreneurs competition.
“As long as I have known him he’s always been into social responsibility,” Burdugo said.
Czinn attributes his social consciousness to his experiences with alternative breaks, a program through Hillel that sends students on community service trips during school breaks.
“When you see the difficult issues people face, it really opens your eyes,” Czinn said. “In the training classes for alternative breaks, they tell you there’s three ways to make a difference: advocacy—which is like lobbying for things—direct service, and philanthropy. I can’t really do philanthropy—I don’t have the money. Direct service always appealed the most to me.”
He’s also interned with the Robert H. Smith School of Business’s Center for Social Value, which helps students use business principles to have a positive impact on society. His experiences, others said, show he’s not just passionate about what he does — he’s good at it too.
“He’s a hard worker,” said Elovitz, who is a member of the Design and Innovation in Marketing Fellows Program with Czinn. “He takes what he learns and uses it in and out of the classroom.”
In his time at the university, Czinn has also served as the treasurer for the Shalom Zionists (SHAZAM), part of the Israel on Campus Coalition, and been inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society.
Though he’s unsure of his exact plans after graduation, Czinn said he could see himself working at a non-profit marketing company.
“In an ideal world, I’d start a non-profit marketing company — in an ideal world,” he said. “I’ll probably try to work at a non-profit.”
As a senior looking towards the future, Czinn is confident in the path he’s chosen. “It’s what I’m built for.”