Written by Zac Kaye, Interim Director
The year has come to an end and it seems such a long time ago that the students and staff were organizing orientation, leadership days, and welcome events to Hillel. Very quickly we were into the Chagim ,and it was on Sukkot that the staff and student leadership met so many new students who came to Hillel for the sushi but stayed to learn so much more about Sukkot. It was great to see so many of these students become very involved in Hillel, as a result of their first encounter with Western Hillel.
A major project for the first semester was the renovation of the new kitchen which meant that many programs and activities had to be relocated to campus venues. However, when the new kitchen was completed in January ,students were thrilled to see it and experience it, especially as their dollars had helped to make it possible through the On One Foot campaign.The kitchen became, in the second semester, the ”hang out” space for many students and enabled Dinner and Discussion events to once again be held at Hillel as well as some wonderful interfaith events.
Another first for Western was the opportunity to bring “shabbat across campus” to students on a more regular basis. The program enabled students, who had not experienced shabbat on campus, and were not necessarily active in Jewish student life, to participate in a peer led shabbat dinner. The Hillel staff and a team of student volunteers helped to get the shabbat box together- with everything you would need for a shabbat meal- and dinners ranged in number from 5 -20 participants. The largest shabbat saw 27 students host 27 dinners across the campus and London for over 250 participants.
Holocaust Awareness Week, Israel Week, Atrium Day , the visit of the Israel Consul General to Hillel as well as Cocktails for a Cure and the Bar Mitzvah Bash all made for a very busy year The chanukah event in which students made their own latkes and Hillel provided over 200 sufganiyot was a great success on a bitterly cold night, but must have set a record for the most sufganiyot consumed in the shortest amount of time.
It was very exciting for Hillel to host a shabbat mincha and Havdalah service for a student who had never experienced a Bar Mitzvah , and close to 30 students attended the event which was very moving indeed, with his Bar Mitzvah then celebrated at the Bar Mitzvah Bash itself.
Hillel’s engagement interns and the Jewski intern worked very hard in meeting with students not on the Hillel radar and did a great job in connecting many of them to Hillel programs. Equally the year saw the emergence of a very strong Graduate student group who held a number of events and Friday night dinners throughout the year.
The leadership on the Hillel Board and the Israel on Campus Executive worked very hard in planning many of the events and programs ,and did so with great dedication and commitment. Once again students raised a tremendous amount of funds for programming initiatives through the On One Foot campaign.
As the year came to a close ,we said farewell to our very popular and dedicated Israel Fellow Matan Boni for whom the students organised a beautiful farewell prior to him returning to Israel after three years in London. The radio initiative that Matan created as a partnership with Sapir College and IDC in Israel won an award from Hillel International for creativity in Israel Programming.
Altogether a busy and exciting year that saw many changes with staff moving on, students graduating and new student leaders taking up their positions for what promises to be another year of excitement and innovation for Western Hillel. It has been a pleasure being involved with Western Hillel these past two years , and I wish the student leadership great success in the coming year and thanks to all those graduating who have played such a pivotal role in Hillel’s continued success.