What We Do at Hillel of Colorado
Hillel of Colorado
Hillel of Colorado, one of over 500 North American affiliates of Hillel International, is the Jewish home-away-from-home for over 1,000 Jewish students at the University of Denver and at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins – with outreach to students at a dozen other colleges in metro-Denver and northern Colorado. Founded in the early 1950’s, Hillel of Colorado provides students with a safe place to learn, socialize, celebrate, act, hone their Jewish values, travel to Israel – and develop the all-important skills and contacts to enable them to become tomorrow’s community leaders.
Student-run and staff supported activities – from weekly Shabbat dinners to social justice trips to assist disaster victims – connect Jewish students with mentors, with Jewish tradition and with each other as they navigate the often-rocky transition from the Jewish world of childhood to that of Jewish adulthood.
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.
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 come 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.
Hillel International’s Charles and Lynn Schusterman International Center located in Washington, DC, partners with the local Hillels at 500+ colleges and universities across North America and around the world, supporting local Hillels to create lasting connections with students and inspiring and training them to become leaders and build their own communities. Hillel recognizes that college is a natural time for exploration and identity formation, and local Hillels rely on community leadership, motivated students and both alumni 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. We know that 90% of Jews in the United States go to college, and with a rich and diverse Hillel network, Hillel International is proud to be assisting local Hillels around the world.
On Hillel of Colorado’s campuses in Denver and Ft. Collins:
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 500 undergraduate students self-identify as Jews, and Hillel staff believes that an even greater number of graduate students are Jewish.
- 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.
Colorado State University (CSU) in Ft. Collins, is the state’s second largest public university with approximately 32,000 students,
- 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.