What We Do at Hillel Colorado
Hillel of Colorado
Hillel of Colorado, one of 550 affiliates of Hillel International, has a major presence on three Colorado campuses: University of Colorado Boulder; Colorado State University in Ft. Collins; and University of Denver. Founded in the early 1950’s, Hillel provides students with a safe place to relax, learn, and socialize with other Jewish college students. From weekly Shabbat dinners to social justice programs, students connect with Jewish tradition and make it their own as they navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Hillel of Colorado is all this and more: Holiday celebrations. A place to find hot kosher food and a warm atmosphere. Lively and important discussions on Jewish Peoplehood. Ritual for those who seek it. Quiet and safe places to study and socialize. Food. Leadership and employment opportunities. A safe place to explore our identity with Israel. Role Models. Birthright/Hillel Israel Travel. Did we mention “food?”
Fine campus directors support and advise students, and a governing board assures the campuses have the resources to thrive.
- Places Students at the Center of everything it plans and does
- Balances programs and services to both Preserve and Innovate
- Pioneers a Collective Impact effort for others serving the demographic that Hillel targets.
We inspire every Jewish student to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning, and Israel – thereby making the world a better place.
We build a Jewish community whose values enrich the lives of students during their college years and beyond.
Hillel is committed to:
- Nurturing a student-led, staff-supported culture committed to excellence, innovation, and accountability.
- Creating a welcoming, pluralistic and inclusive environment for Jewish students and their guests.
- Guiding students to live by the Jewish prophetic values of social justice (tzedek and tikkun olam).
- Embracing Jewish learning and support for Israel & Jewish Peoplehood.
- Supporting students to anchor their lives in their deepest values to becometomorrow’s Jewish leaders.
“…Hundreds of thousands of college students find community, create Jewish connections and build leadership skills through their local Hillel. Hillel recognizes that college is a natural time for exploration and identity formation, and local Hillels rely on leadership, motivated students and demonstrated university support to create positive Jewish memories for scores of students…(Hillel) engages with and inspires the leadership of more Jewish college students than all other endeavors combined.”
Hillel of Colorado is affiliated with Hillel International – The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, founded in the mid-1920’s to “convey Jewish civilization to a new generation.”
Its original purpose is no less important today than it was over nine decades ago.
Named after Rabbi Hillel the Elder, one of Judaism’s most renowned First Century scholars and teachers, Hillel International has grown into one of the world’s largest Jewish campus organizations. Rabbi Hillel’s famous maxim – That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Now go and learn. – embodies a precept shared by Hillel chapters worldwide. Like its namesake, campus Hillels teach Jewish values and customs to all who are interested, with the expectation that these clients (the students) will become worthy inheritors of the tradition and its timeless values.
On Hillel’s campuses in Colorado:
1. University of Colorado (CU Boulder) is the 37th largest U.S. public university by Jewish population, with about 7% of its approximately 30,000 students self-identifying as Jewish.
- The potential pool for Hillel is more than 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students
- Estimates are that 2014–15 found around 500 unique visitors to CU-Boulder Hillel programs, with about half present at enough events to be known by name to staff and student leaders.
- Shabbat dinners ranged from 35 to 100 students, and other holiday gatherings drew 50 to 120; about 50–75 of those students were regulars.
- Finding Jewish students who do not wish to be found is a challenge; still the staff’s target is to identify 70% of all Jewish students, and at the very least invite them to events.
2. The University of Denver (DU), a private institution of higher learning, has about 11,500 students, but only about 45% of those are undergraduates. The DU Chaplain’s office estimates that about 250 students self-identify as Jews, but Hillel staff believes that number to be greater than 400.
- DU Hillel estimates that up to 90% of its Jewish students are from outside the State of Colorado, with a disproportionate number of out-of-state students from the Chicago area. Many also hail from Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the major Jewish California and Texas population centers.
- The Jewish graduate student population – representing an incredible potential since many stay in Colorado after graduation – is largely untapped, with little or no strategies in place yet to engage them.
- About 300 unique visitors in 2014–15 found their way to Hillel programs.
- Shabbat dinners and bi-weekly programs averaged about 40 students – with a range of 30 to 60; about 50 of those students were regulars.
- Holiday gatherings drew more, up to 150 students; they averaged about 100.3.
3. Colorado State University (CSU) in Ft. Collins, the state’s second largest public university with approximately 32,000 students, has fewer Jewish students than CU-Boulder has, and a smaller percentage seeking Jewish connection.
- Hillel staff estimates that approximately 400 to 600 students identify Jewishly.
- Estimates are that 2014–15 found up to 120 unique visitors to Hillel programs, with about 80% present enough to be known by name; about 25 to 40 students were regulars.
- CSU is considering asking students to self-identify by religion; in the meantime Hillel has new processes in place for 2015–16 to help identify Jewish students.
- Large campus-wide programs will continue to be a priority, with greater than 1,000 attending a Holocaust program and more than 300 attending a concert in 2014–15; many were non-Jews.