By Amy Steinberg, Mitzpeh staff writer
This fall, the campus Jewish community welcomes three new staff members – Jennifer Zukerman, Katy Goldwater and Stacy Blumenthal – all of whom have hopes of improving Jewish life on campus.
Zukerman, who started in June as the new Director of Development for Hillel, is in charge of fundraising. Primarily, her role is to find people with an interest in Hillel and/or the University of Maryland who may want to donate money to support programs and other activities for students. She explained that the majority of financial support comes from parents, alumni, community supporters and grants. This year, Zukerman hopes to raise $250,000 which would surpass last year’s amount of $136,000.
Before Zukerman found her way to College Park, she worked as a campaign associate for the Jewish Federation in Norfolk, VA and as the Executive Director of a Norfolk synagogue.
Zukerman is seeking a student to work as a development intern in her office to concentrate on special projects. Anyone who is interested should contact her about this position. She can be found in her office at Hillel Monday-Friday from 9am-3pm. She tries to spend the rest of her time with her two young children and her husband at their home in Silver Spring.
Campus is also fortunate enough to have two Jewish Campus Service Corps (JCSC) fellows on camps this year – Katy Goldwater and Stacy Blumenthal.
The JCSC program was started five years ago by International Hillel. This year, there are approximately 80 JCSC fellows at campuses nationwide. Generally, the fellows are graduate students or students who have just finished graduate school. The basic concept is to do activities outside of Hillel itself. Programs are generally targeted at students that don’t usually come to Hillel, but still want to get involved with Jewish life on campus.
“We are not out to suck you in,” explained Blumenthal.
Both Goldwater and Blumenthal described their first impressions of campus as “big.” Blumenthal commented that the university is “daunting” and that it can be “very impersonal.” Both Goldwater and Blumenthal agreed that they would have a hard time fitting in as students because of campus’ size.
“It is hard to convince people that you’re genuine,” commented Goldwater regarding a disadvantage of campus’ immense size.
Each JCSC fellow has a personal goal for this year. Blumenthal hopes to get Tzedek Hillel, a community service oriented group, started and on the path towards success. Campus is one of ten universities starting the Tzedek Hillel program. Blumenthal also wants to work with Greek students and Reform students more to make them stronger and more confident, as well making them feel more comfortable in the campus Jewish community.
Goldwater wants to offer alternatives for the students who do not feel confident to come to activities with large groups of people. She also hopes to make first-year students more comfortable on campus.
What encouraged them to become JCSC fellows?
“I was inspired by a JCSC at Hebrew University in Jerusalem,” explained Blumenthal. “It sounded good to me. I wanted to do something creative and fun that wasn’t a desk job.”
Goldwater, a native of Great Britain, became a JCSC fellow simply because she wanted to work with the Jewish community.
“I didn’t want to work in England because I wanted to see how the States are different,” said Goldwater. “I wanted a people-oriented job and to make a difference with people.”
Both Goldwater and Blumenthal explained that they don’t have “typical days.” They usually work until 9 p.m. They said their days are “demanding, but fun.”
So far, their hard work has gone into programs like the Big Sister/Big Brother Pool Party, First Year Studens meeting, a High Holiday food drive and an Ice Cream Social. Upcoming plans include a hike to the Shenandoah National Park with the Outdoor Campus Recreation Center on Nov. 7.
Both Goldwater and Blumenthal want students to know that their doors are always open if they want to talk.
They explained, “We are not here to make you fit into Jewish life, we are here to make it fit for you.”