By Benjamin Gonzalez
Maryland Hillel hosted Jewish professionals from a variety of educational backgrounds for a networking event Sunday afternoon.
In collaboration with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Maryland Hillel put together “Network & Nosh” to give undergraduate students at this university a chance to find out more about working in the DMV.
Kira Borman, the Melvin Cohen young leadership associate and NEXT DC coordinator at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, said the event was part of the institution’s “Day of Impact,” with this particular project focusing on Jewish identity.
She said she was “thrilled” that Maryland Hillel works to create a Jewish “home away from home” for the student population. Bringing alumni back to contribute to the event is one of the ways the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington helps foster a Jewish community in the DMV, said Borman.
“Rather than just celebrating what the young generation is doing to build and strengthen a stronger, more vibrant Jewish community, we thought it would be great to also give back in a way of action,” she explained.
Hannah Litman, the development associate and alumni liaison at Maryland Hillel, said the event came together through outreach by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Professionals invited to the event were contacted through either Maryland Hillel or the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
“I think it’s, hopefully, a cool step for us to take,” said Litman. “I really want to create a better culture of a connection between students and alumni and really have that Maryland Hillel spirit live on.”
Litman is a class of 2017 graduate of this university and was involved in Hillel as a student.
She wants students, especially seniors, to “understand that once they graduate, they can still give back to Hillel and still be a part of the community.”
As for the future, Litman said, “People can expect more of a connection to alumni and, hopefully, the community.”
Justin Kelman, also a 2017 graduate of this university and employee at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, was one of the professionals to come out to the event.
He found out about the event through Facebook and “liked the idea of giving back to the community that [he] graduated with.”
Kelman enjoys talking about the Jewish community he has found in Washington D.C. and about the work he is doing. “Network & Nosh” gave him the opportunity to share his experience with current students.
“I think the significance is a lot about the young Jewish professional life in the D.C. area, the DMV area,” said Kelman. “You don’t have to move to New York to have a good young life right after graduation.”
Jesse Vaknin, a sophomore government and politics major, “love[s] networking” and wanted to meet Jewish leaders in the community.
“I met a lot of really great people. I think I learned a lot in terms of the professional mindset, how to act in these networking events,” said Vaknin. “It’s really great to get into these professional networking habits. Also, there was free breakfast.”
“There’s definitely a potential for events like this to become much bigger and much more popular,” he said.