By Senaya Savir, staff writer, @SenayaSavir
Hillel staff welcomed an additional member to their team this past December. Rachel Hochheiser-Schwartz, originally from Potomac, Md., is serving as the new Maryland Hillel leadership consultant.
Hochheiser-Schwartz, who is no stranger to the young Jewish community, previously worked for BBYO, a Jewish youth group, when she decided she wanted a “career refresher” and was ready to move on from an administrative setting.
“It’s so invigorating to work with students and actually be among the population I am working for,” Hochheiser-Schwartz said. “I feel lucky to be surrounded by students I can both teach and learn a lot from.”
Hochheiser-Schwartz grew up in a Jewish home and was always active in her synagogue, working as an international board member for USY, the Conservative movement’s Jewish youth group. She continued her role in the young Jewish world at Brown University where she became the Hillel student president.
Pursuing her undergraduate degree in Judaic and American studies, Hochheiser-Schwartz was particularly interested in the changes that happened in American culture after WWII, one of those changes being the development of a new teen culture, which inspired her to write her thesis on Jewish youth groups in the 1950s.
“I learned a lot about how the development of a national teenage identity and the values instilled in a post-war United States impacted the creation/evolution of the Jewish youth movements that we are so familiar with today,” Hochheiser-Schwartz said.
Her thesis is ultimately where she found her passion and what cemented her commitment to working with the Jewish youth for the years to follow.
After a semester abroad in Tel Aviv and finishing graduate school at Washington University, Hochheiser-Schwartz worked as a student leadership development associate for Hillel International and traveled to campuses across the country to run student leadership trainings.
All of these events led Hochheiser-Schwartz to Maryland Hillel, where she says she feels fortunate to work with its specific team of professionals, who are extremely fun and supportive.
“Being here for only two months and being able to develop relationships with students and coworkers has been a really fun and exciting adventure so far,” Hochheiser-Schwartz said.
This semester, Hochheiser-Schwartz will be tackling three major portfolio pieces that will include working with students to organize the Women’s Leadership Conference and students involved in Hillel Executive Council (HEC).
HEC is comprised of all the leaders of Jewish student groups falling under the “Hillel umbrella,” according to Hochheiser-Schwartz. She works with student group leaders to assist in troubleshooting and networking among all the different Jewish groups on campus.
Hochheiser-Schwartz said she is looking forward to being a part of redeveloping the curriculum of HEC and is excited for what is to come this semester.