2017 Year In Review
A Message from HCNE Executive Director, Sam Mendales
At Hillel Council of New England we work directly with five campuses: Suffolk University and Boston, Emerson, Simmons and Wheaton Colleges, where we have staff on the ground serving as Hillel advisors and working closely with our campus partners in both the Spiritual life and Student Life departments. We have had these relationships for a number of years and are proud that our campus staff continue to serve in these capacities to support Jewish life on these campuses with small Jewish populations. And as you have seen from some highlights on our slideshow, we continue to grow and provide more and more opportunities for our students. This year, we had over 100 students attend our regional Rosh Hashanah dinner, held right in this room- a record turnout! We also saw unprecedented collaboration between our schools and had a record number of students attend Birthright Israel and the Onward Israel summer internship program.
But as many of you are aware, that is only one aspect of our work at Hillel Council. We also advise emerging campuses who are looking to start Hillels or who need additional support beyond the volunteer staff advisor assigned to them from their campus. These include Wheelock College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester State University, Bentley University, Rogers Williams University, Salem State University, and Berklee College of Music.
Hillel Council also facilitates the gathering of Jewish college students from all of Boston and beyond- through leadership trainings and the student presidents’ council to large-scale regional events such as Fall formals and Purim Masquerade balls, Hillel Council works with all areas schools- large and small, bringing students together for social encounters who otherwise may not know any other Jews on their campuses.
We are also proud of the fact that, in addition to students gatherings, we also convene staff from all over New England for trainings, conferences, and our signature program, the “Program Pros Roundtable”, a community of practice that brings together program professionals from over 15 area schools for professional development, colleagueal networking, and to share best practices. Our staff serve as mentors and advisors to these program staffers, who are sometimes right out of college and seek advice and guidance on navigating the challenges they face on their campuses.
Hillel Council also provides financial services, including accounts payable, receivable, payroll, and benefits administration to many Hillels universities in the area. These services continue to provide an income source for Hillel Council while assisting these other Hillels in much-needed services at a fraction of the cost would they have to perform the tasks independently.
While these highlights of our main areas of operation offer a glimpse into the work we do, at the heart of what we do every day, and of what we are most proud of, is the relationships we incubate and facilitate across all areas. Last year, an Emerson student attended her first-ever Passover seder and then spent the summer in Israel because of the unique relationship cultivated by her advisor. One program professional made the hard decision to leave one Hillel for a job with another area Hillel and sought encouragement, advice, and a reference from a number of our staff. Boston University, Harvard, Northeastern and Tufts collaborated for the first time on a joint program last year because of the relationship of trust and admiration the staff have built over time at the Program Pros Roundtable. Simmons and Boston College students continue to build bridges and reach out to their Muslim counterparts through interfaith initiatives supported by the College and modeled by the friendships between their Hillel and Muslim Student Association advisors. The President of Suffolk Hillel initiated a meeting with the University President to begin the conversation to bring Halal and Kosher food to campus. And this year, Hillel Council assisted in the successful searches for new Executive Directors at Clark University and Brandies University.
These are just some examples of the impact of our work as a direct result of the unique role of Hillel Council in the greater campus community. As we close out this fiscal year and enter a new one I am excited to see what the new year will bring. And I am grateful for your continued partnership as we continue to cultivate these relationships on campus and beyond. Thank you!