A Springboard Story: How I Met A Former Google Superstar

by | Mar 1, 2018 | Hillel Ontario, Opportunities | 0 comments

Written by Naomi Brief, Social Media Springboard Fellow

As part of the onboarding process, all Hillel professionals are sent to the New Professional Institute (NPI) in St. Louis. I had the privilege to attend NPI in 2016 as a Springboard Fellow. One warm night, all new professionals met up at a bar. I got to socialize with future coworkers outside of a professional work environment which was an amazing opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level over a drink or two.

At one point of the night me and a few other Springboard Fellows decided it was time to leave. Coincidentally, Mimi Kravetz, the former HR Executive of Google decided to leave at the same time. We were standing outside the bar, debating whether to call a taxi. Not knowing how far our place was, or what the best way was to get there, we thought it would be a better idea to enjoy the warm summer air and go on a midnight stroll.

That midnight stroll turned out to be more of an exciting midnight adventure. Usually, I would have been annoyed by the fact that we got lost, walking through sketchy paths, construction sites, up and down staircases and who knows where else. But this was a different situation. Here I was, at an overcrowded conference, trying to meet as many people as possible, when all of a sudden, I have Google’s HR Executive, a very busy woman, all to myself, getting lost with me on the empty streets of St. Louis.

I started talking to Mimi, not really aware of who she was. We discussed our backgrounds, family and where we were from. I told her about my complicated Visa situation back in Toronto and she told me stories about her adorable children. It was a fun night. When we started talking about why she was considering working for Hillel, I learned that she started her superstar career with a Hillel fellowship upon which the Springboard Fellowship is based. From there, Mimi moved on to American Express and then to Google, where she held four positions over the span of nine years. Now Mimi is back with Hillel, as the Chief Talent Officer.

While walking with her, I realized that I’m not only unbelievably lucky because I got to spend about an hour with this super badass success machine, but also, because she started her impressive career in a similar position as I hold now.

Today, a year and a half later, I am almost finished my tenure as a Social Media Springboard Fellow, and Hillel Ontario is hiring two new Springboard Fellows for the 2018-2019 academic year. If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I suggest you apply and join the movement. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the next Hillel professional to climb the ladder of success at Google.

Weekly D’var: Vayetzei

Weekly D’var: Vayetzei

This week’s parsha is one that is filled near to overflowing with iconic stories.  Covering Jacob’s travels to, life in, and departure from Haran, the home of his uncle (and eventually father-in-law) Laban, Vayetzei recounts the stories of Jacob’s dream of the ladder, his marriages, first to Leah, then to Rachel, the births of twelve of his children, and so much more.  

With all of this, I am struck by a couple of stories that are not explicitly in our text at all, but come to us in the form of Madrash, the traditional interpretations or explanations of our text that have come down from the sages.

The stories that have captured my interest are surrounding two verses that come at the very beginning of our text (Genesis 28:11 and 28:18) and are seeking to explain a seeming inconsistency between these verses. Just as Jacob is lying down to have his famous dream, we are told that “He took from the stones of the place and set it/them at his head and lay down in that place”, the Hebrew text being unclear on the number of stones Jacob had taken.  Verse 18, which picks up immediately after the dream, is by contrast, very clear, saying, “he took the stone that he had set at his head and set it up as a standing-pillar”. 

The first explanation comes from Rashi (11th/12th c. French commentator), who explains that Jacob had taken a number of stones and arranged them around his head for protection, prompting an argument among the stones, with each asking that they have the honour of holding the righteous man’s head.  Rashi goes on to say that at this point, the holy one fused the rocks into one. 

There are a number of others that appear in the great collection of Midrash, Breishit Rabbah, each offering a different number of stones.  One of the stories counts twelve stones to teach Jacob that he would be the father of twelve tribes; another, three stones, teaching that God’s oneness would be made known through Jacob; yet another, two stones, to teach that Jacob’s progeny would be worthy to form the people Israel.

Our tradition offers us all of these understandings of a single moment in the life of Jacob, each of them teaching him a different lesson.  We can find multiple interpretations of most stories from the Torah; that is part of the beauty of Midrash.  But I am struck by the form that these midrashim take, each of them recounting a lesson learned, each examining a single moment.  In this, I am reminded of the beauty of reflection, of a life examined, reminded that, within the hustle and bustle of our lives, and despite it, each moment has so much potential to teach us.

Rabbi Danny A Lutz
Senior Jewish Educator, Guelph Hillel

Weekly D’var: Chayei Sarah

Weekly D’var: Chayei Sarah

The second line of this week’s parsha tells us that Sarah, our matriarch, died in Kiryat Arba in the land of Canaan. The first verse, and the one from which we get the name of the parsha, Chayei Sarah, describes her life; “Sarah’s lifetime came to one hundred and twenty-seven years.” Abraham has just proved his dedication to God; he offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice before God, was commanded to spare him, and received a blessing. Abraham was promised that his descendants would outnumber the stars in heaven and the grains of sand, but his wife Sarah, his partner and his children’s mother, has now died. Abraham mourns Sarah and weeps by her. His experience of deep sadness is another low point in his turbulent story. Despite being offered by the Hittites and Ephron a burial place, he insists on paying them the full amount of silver it is worth and when Abraham dies at a hundred and seventy-five, he joins Sarah in the cave on Ephron’s land.

This parsha always makes me think of the ritual of shiva, the week of mourning following the death of a loved one. Mourners are joined by their community to provide comfort and meet the needs of the family and are present as those closest to the deceased say kaddish. The mourner’s kaddish is a fascinating and beautiful exaltation, a prayer for peace and for God to hear us and keep us, something that can feel jarring and distinct from grief and loss. The value of the Jewish ritual following death is that we gather to remember and reminisce the span of a person’s existence in our lives and their affect on the world around them for good, not simply to lament their passing. We’re told in the parsha that after they are wed, “Isaac loved [Rebekah], and thus found comfort after his mother’s death.” 

Jacob Brickman
Hillels Waterloo & Laurier

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