What We Do at Hillel of Colorado
Hillel of Colorado
Hillel of Colorado, one of 550 affiliates of Hillel International (the Hillel movement began in the 1920’s), 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 of Colorado provides students with a safe place to learn together, socialize, hone their Jewish values, travel abroad, and develop leadership skills along 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 often-rocky transition from the childhood Jewish world to that of Jewish adulthood. Hillel of Colorado is:
- Traditional student-run and staff supported programs such as Shabbat dinners, community learning, holiday celebrations and commemorations, social programs, and social justice initiatives – and of course, that home-away-from-home students crave!
- Leadership Development Programming that train the Jewish leaders of tomorrow, connect students to the Colorado Jewish community, offer community internships, mentorships, and 1–1 connections – and provide avenues to enhance students’ professional skills they will need for life beyond college.
- Israel Programming offers students an opportunity to join us on a Hillel-sponsored-and-run Birthright Israel trip, with pre- and post-trip programming. Cultural programs and political discussions, speakers – and access to enhanced travel and study opportunities in Israel post-college – abound.
We inspire every Jewish student to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning, and Israel.
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 of Colorado’s three campuses in Boulder, Denver and Ft. Collins:
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 well more than 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students
- We estimate that more than 800 unique visitors attend CU-Boulder Hillel programs, with about a third present at enough events to be known by name to staff and student leaders.
- Shabbat dinners range from 50 to 100 students, and other holiday gatherings often draw even more.
- 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; about half are undergraduates. The DU Chaplain’s office estimates that about 250 students self-identify as Jews, but Hillel staff believes that number to be closer to 400 or even greater.
- DU Hillel estimates that greater than 75% of its Jewish students are from outside the State of Colorado, with a disproportionate number of out-of-state students from the Chicago area, Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the major California and Texas population centers.
- The Jewish graduate student population – representing an incredible potential since many stay in Colorado after graduation – is largely untapped. New, exciting strategies are now in place to begin to engage them.
- About 300 unique visitors annually find their way to DU Hillel programs.
- Shabbat dinners and bi-weekly programs average 30 to 50 students – with up to 80 from time-to-time; about 50 are regulars.
- Holiday gatherings draw more: up to 200 students, for example, celebrated with us last year at our DU Hillel Passover seders.
3. Colorado State University (CSU) in Ft. Collins, the state’s second largest public university with approximately 32,000 students, has far fewer Jewish students than CU-Boulder.
- Hillel staff estimates that approximately 500 students at CSU identify Jewishly.
- CSU Hillel reports an up to 150 unique visitors attend Hillel programs annually, with about 80% known to leadership by name. About 40 students are regulars.
- Large campus-wide programs continue to be a priority for CSU Hillel, with greater than 1,000 students attending our annual Holocaust program. More than 300 students attend each annual concert, Thanksgiving celebration and interfaith program; many are non-Jews.