Thoughts from the Executive Director
We hope your fall holidays were meaningful, and that this newsletter finds you well.
Hillel of Colorado’s success depends on our communicating effectively with our students, parents, friends and supporters. This year, we plan to send more emails like this one to help keep you in the know about activities on our three Colorado campuses:
CU-Boulder Hillel, CSU Hillel in Ft. Collins and the DU Hillel – as well as in leadership development and Israel programming. This communication also provides an important opportunity to acknowledge and thank the donors who help keep our Hillel community vibrant and alive.
Over the Jewish holidays, we hope you received a letter from us asking you to help kick off the Jewish new year by supporting Hillel of Colorado. If you have already given, thank you! If not, and you would like to, please consider a meaningful donation now. With 100% of our funding coming from community supporters, foundations, alumni and parents, it is because of you that we can continue doing our part in securing the Jewish future.
Our seven dedicated program staff serve approximately 3,500 Colorado college students who identify as Jewish. Contact me with comments or questions, or if you’d like to stop by for a cup of coffee, a tour or to see any of our programs in action.
Daniel W. Bennett, Executive Director
Where Hillel of Colorado Shines
- A Jewish Home-Away-from-Home
We are proud to be one of the exceptional regional Hillels in the country. Our main focus is to serve students on the three major college campuses in Colorado and the approximately 5,000 students statewide who identify as Jewish. Last year, we more than doubled our reach! For example, we hosted 375 students at Passover seders and averaged 225 attendees at Shabbat dinners held weekly at our three campuses.
- Training Leaders for Tomorrow’s Challenges
Leadership programs train the Jewish leaders of tomorrow and connect students in meaningful ways to the Denver and Boulder Jewish communities. Last year, we trained 55 students in immersive leadership roles and placed 15 interns in local Jewish organizations. This year we are excited to have a full-time staff member to focus on leadership development programs, retreats, internships and mentorships.
- Birthright Israel and Israel Education Programs
Last year, more than 200 students joined us on Hillel-of-Colorado sponsored-and-run Birthright Israel trips with improved pre- and post-trip programming, many of them experiencing Israel for the first time. This year will be even better! We now have our very own Jewish Agency Israel Fellow, a full-time member of the Colorado shlichut team, to guide and mentor pro-Israel activities on campus
What We’ve Been Up To and What’s Coming Up
Learn more about what we’ve been up to and what we’re looking forward to through our five programs:
For the first time in years, High Holiday services returned to CU-Hillel with Rabbi Don Levy, an HUC graduate and retired US Air Force chaplain, leading us at Old Main and on a holiday hike to celebrate the new year.
Coming up at CU Hillel:
- A new Outdoor Adventure/Environmental Program will include a two night retreat in Estes Park in January as well as day hikes, climbing trips, ski outings and more. Students will have the opportunity to explore environmentalism through a Jewish lens and work with local Boulder organizations that focus on sustainability and outdoor education.
- We are planning an alternative spring break trip in Houston in March, which will provide students the opportunity to assist in rebuilding the city following Hurricane Harvey. We will work with Rabbi Kenny Weiss, the Executive Director of Houston Hillel, to create this tikkun olam experience.
- Our Tuesday night activities this fall included guest speakers Rabbi Tirzah Firestone and Rabbi Fred Greene in October, with Rabbi Marc Soloway and Professor Janet Jacobs scheduled for November.
We are excited about recruitment for CU Hillel’s two winter Birthright Israel trips, which is in full force, with one a designated enhanced BICEP trip led by our new Israel Fellow.
We value our community’s input! Please contact Campus Director Linda Loewenstein with comments or questions.
To celebrate Rosh Hashanah, DU Hillel held services on campus and in nature. Students came together through song and prayer on campus and celebrated at Red Rocks in Morrison, where they gathered to hike, blow the shofar and discuss the significance of the High Holidays. Our High Holiday schedule continued with an Erev Yom Kippur meal at Hillel, transportation to local synagogues for services, and a break-the-fast meal at Hillel to conclude the holiday celebration.
Recruitment for the December Birthright Israel trip continues in full force as we work to build on the success of last year’s largest DU-Hillel group in ages! The 10-day trip returns just before New Year’s.
DU Hillel is thrilled to announce that it now hosts weekly yoga classes and a student-led women’s and men’s discussion group on topics of Judaism and gender.
We value our community’s input! Please contact Campus Director Natalie Bergner with comments or questions.
CSU Hillel’s tag line “small but mighty” applies more than ever as AEPi men now inhabit Hillel’s rental property right next to the Merage CU Hillel House.
Over the holidays we hosted Shabbat Under the Stars for Rosh Hashanah in our shared driveway!
Our CSU Hillel is the only Hillel in the country certified by Hazon through their Seal of Sustainability program. Jewish CSU students created a vegetable garden in the yard whose food is used to make Shabbat meals, and installed a rotary composter to help Hillel reduce food waste and fertilize its garden. Students care for chickens on the property to support CSU Hillel’s sustainability goals: students feed food scraps to the chickens, whose waste is used as compost for their garden which grows vegetables for Hillel’s meals.
A highlight is always Interfaith Thanksgiving, where 25 students cook the meal at Hillel for an expected attendance of more than 150 students from all faiths and backgrounds. This year’s event will be held on November 8.
We value our community’s input! Please contact Campus Director Alex Amchislavskiy with comments or questions.
Our Israel Fellow meets regularly with students one-on-one and in small discussion groups throughout our campuses to talk about what it is like to live in Israel. Nofar and the students speak about the conflict in the country as she shares her experiences in the Israel Defense Forces. Students reflect upon the American perception of Israel and their Jewish identity now that they are at college.
DU Hillel hosted “Shakshuka in the Sukkah” to celebrate Sukkot. Nofar taught Israeli cooking so students could learn how to make this classical Israeli egg dish.
Birthright Israel recruitment and orientation is a huge part of campus life with the goal of every Hillel student joining us on Birthright during their college stay, many returning to Israel for post-college Israel travel, study and internship experiences that Hillel of Colorado promotes.
We value our community’s input! Please contact Hillel’s Jewish Agency Israel Fellow Nofar Salman with comments or questions.
The inaugural Community Engagement Internship Program (CEIP) matched eight Hillel of Colorado students with our Denver Jewish community partners this summer. Students worked at ADL, Bnai Havurah, DJDS, Emanuel, JCC, JFS, Kavod and Mizel Museum and studied together at the Merage-Allon DU Hillel House every Friday discussing a variety of topics.
The Boulder Community Internship Program (BCIP) is in its second year, placing Hillel students in Jewish communal institutions for internships. Interns will come together regularly throughout the school year for professional development seminars.
Last year, we were one of nine Hillels worldwide that participated in the On One Foot student-led fundraising campaign, which raised $3,500 for DU Hillel. We will recruit for this program in November and launch in February 2018.
We value our community’s input! Please contact Hillel Leadership Specialist Jordyn Steifman with comments or questions.
Check Us Out in the News
- Israeli Fellow to Join Hillel of Colorado Team
- Hillel of Colorado Announces New University of Denver Student Life Director
- Hillel of Colorado Hosts High Holiday Services at University of Colorado at Boulder
- Boulder Jewish News on High Holidays at Hillel — September 7
- CU Independent on High Holidays at Hillel — September 20
Thank You to Our Donors!
100% of Hillel’s annual support comes from community donors, foundations, alumni and parents. Hillel does not receive direct funding from Hillel International and we could not fulfill our mission without your support. Thank you to all who have provided support in 2015, 2016, and so far in 2017 so we can continue to run programs that help build the Jewish leaders of tomorrow.