By Senaya Savir
Hillel at the University of Maryland serves one of the largest and most diverse Jewish student populations in the country. It hosts over 400 students each Friday night and accommodates over 1,000 students for the High Holiday services. Hillel is also affiliated with 40 Jewish student groups.
This year, Hillel welcomed four new members to the professional team. They all share a pluralistic vision necessary to make the Hillel community stronger.
Lindsay Goldman is excited to work as Hillel’s Jewish experience associate, a position that doesn’t exist on any other campus. She aims to “re-envision and redesign Shabbat and holidays” and hopes she can work with the unique atmosphere at Maryland Hillel to make the Hillel even more accessible to Jewish students. She began tackling this project by creating an earlier Shabbat dinner for students who can’t attend the later one. Goldman’s favorite part about working for Hillel is being part of a pluralistic environment where everyone is welcome to explore their Jewish identities on their own terms. If Goldman could tell her college self one thing looking back, it would be to get more involved in extracurriculars. Ironically, Goldman wound up discovering what she loved to do in the places she worried would be distracting to her academics.
Nurit Eitan joined the Hillel staff all the way from Holon, Israel. Before coming to Maryland, Eitan served as an officer in the Israeli army, working for a program called Nativ, which gives soldiers that didn’t grow up in Israel the opportunity to become more educated about their Jewish and Israeli identities. She now works as Hillel’s Israel fellow, where she engages and educates students about Israel. Eitan said one of the greatest aspects of Hillel is that “it opens you up to a whole new social circle” where students can find out what opportunities are out there and connect with people of similar interests. Eitan hopes to reach out to as many students as possible as a means for figuring out exactly what they want in terms of Israeli programming. Her goal is to bring Israeli culture and appreciation to campus, rather than have students only associate the country with conflict. Though Eitan has only been here for a few weeks, she said that “Hillel has an extremely warm working environment where everyone not only works really hard but is also always willing to help each other out when they need it.”
Lexie Kahn graduated from the University of Maryland this past May. Kahn described Hillel as her “second home.” She now works as Hillel’s development associate and focuses on re-engaging alumni and running different events for senior students. With many alumni, it can be difficult to maintain consistent communication. Kahn hopes she can “revive that connection to Hillel they once had” while also dedicating time to making sure the seniors have a great last year. As an alumna, Kahn’s advice to students on joining Hillel would be that it really helps Maryland feel smaller. “It was a huge part of my college experience and made me feel like I had a home away from home.” She said Hillel exposes you to several learning opportunities, community service and other ways for students to celebrate their Jewish identities.
Liz Barenholtz came to the University of Maryland to work with Greek life students and freshman as Hillel’s engagement associate. Barenholtz works with the JGL fellowship,which focuses on instilling Greek and Jewish values through different events and programs. Barenholtz attended Lawrence University in Wisconsin, where she majored in Art History, and played and coached lacrosse. Her university contained an extremely small Jewish community and, even though she came from a non-observant background, during the High Holidays she felt something was missing. It drove her and a few of her sorority sisters of Delta Gamma to start a Jewish club on campus that eventually became recognized by Hillel International. Barenholtz is excited to now work for an organization that stands by her pluralistic values of being inclusive of people of all levels. She aims to “make Hillel more of a concept than just a building” by reaching as many Jewish Greeks as possible. A personal goal of hers is to learn more about her own Jewish identity and to enhance her Jewish experiences through the students and faculty.