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October 15, 2009

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October 15, 2009

I was a student at CMU for five years, and lived in Pittsburgh for two more years after that. Hillel is the primary location for Jewish life in Pittsburgh for those who are unmarried, without kids, and not living with their parents. As a student, I joined the student board and founded a sub-organization for Reform Jews within Hillel. I heard from my peers that other Hillels were not welcoming to those who were not Orthodox -- but the Hillel JUC serves effectively as an umbrella organization, welcoming all Jews in the area. Aaron Weil, the executive director, is an expert at trying new approaches to engage students of all types in Jewish activities. Hillel is a place of community and ritual, as well as great opportunity. For example, through Hillel and Kesher, I traveled to Israel twice and Argentina once. Though there is a significant rift between CMU students and Pitt students -- exacerbated by the split programming and leadership that Hillel staff provide -- Hillel is a very diverse, friendly place for Jews at all times. With a variety of programs, there's something to match all interests. Hillel provides a platform on which students and staff work together to make Jewish life great for students in Pittsburgh.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

figure out a way for students from all universities to be equally included in programming. Help freshmen learn to run their own events.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the ability Hillel affords to grow as a person and learn about Judaism as part of a community of committed Jews.

Ways to make it better...

there were less politics in the leadership of the organization.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

October 15, 2009

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October 15, 2009

I've been on the Hillel JUC's board since 1994. I'm now the President of the Board, and I'm so proud of how far this organization has come in the 15 years I've been active here! Hillel JUC provides a huge range of programs for students on the University campuses in Pittsburgh. But we've now reached beyond the campuses to create amazing links with the larger Pittsburgh Jewish community as well. The JUC's students are now integrated into the community as Sunday school teachers, camp counselors, tutors, babysitters, etc. Through the new "Family Ties" program students are being matched with community families. I know this is a great way for the students to have a home away from home, but it's also a great way for kids in the sponsor families to learn about college from a real college student, and about how to be a proud, connected Jewish young adult. Hillel JUC is also launching a program called "Hometown Pittsburgh," designed to help graduating students create excellent resumes, learn interviewing skills, and find their first internships/jobs in Pittsburgh. Hopefully this will give them what they need to stay in Pittsburgh after graduation.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

every way possible! Over the years I have watched more and more students participate in events, make friends, and learn leadership skills. They have become my children's babysitters, Sunday school teachers and camp counselors.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

It's explosive growth in the last 10 years.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

make Pittsburgh's universities an amazing draw for students from around the country. If that happened, Hillel JUC could truly change the demographic mix of Pittsburgh, infusing our community with young, talented people wanting to settle in Pittsburgh.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

October 14, 2009

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October 14, 2009

I've been a proud supporter of this organization since its renaissance in the beautiful and welcoming new building situated between Pitt and CMU. The presence of the Hillel JUC in Pittsburgh has made a huge difference in Jewish life on our campuses. Students are now choosing Pittsburgh universities because such a great Hillel exists here. They are finding Jewish friends and meeting Jewish families. It's a win for the students and for Jewish continuity in Pittsburgh.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Watching this Hillel grow into an exciting place that attracts more and more students each year.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Bright, motivated, dedicated to the goals of this Hillel.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

October 14, 2009

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October 14, 2009

The Hillel JUC of Pittsburgh has been an unmeasurable help to my organization, Panthers 4 Israel, and to me as a student leader. There's always someone around to lend a hand with programming, offer support, or just lend an ear when the pressures of running an organization begin to get to me. As a freshman, I went to Hillel JUC in search of Jewish community, and I found it. Now, as a student leader, I go there as a member of the community, knowing that there's always a welcoming vibe by both the people and the building, and a distinctly helpful can-do attitude.

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If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

find even more amazing ways to build a community for Jewish students on campus. They'd be able to devote more money to speakers and programming, to Shabbat meals and other initiatives to build a strong Jewish presence on campus.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

October 14, 2009

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October 14, 2009

Hillel JUC has afforded me countless opportunities to better myself for the present and the future. I served on the Hillel Student Executive Board for two years, one as Business Manager and one as Vice President. This experience was rewarding because it allowed me to develop many useful skills. I had to work efficiently and effectively with fellow board members, cater to our excited constituency, and handle countless responsibilities. The experience I gained on Hillel Board will serve me well as I move on and look to gain employment in the "real world." I have also been a member of the Hillel JUC-sponsored a cappella group, The Vokols, for my four years here. I have been able to perform at countless events, and have enjoyed enriching my life with music while spending many fun hours with the rest of the group. On a more casual note, I have attended Friday night services and dinner just about every week, and it was at Hillel that I met the majority of my closest college friends, including those who would recruit me into the fraternity of which I am currently a content member. Without the Hillel JUC, my professional, recreational, and social lives at Pitt would be completely different, and probably not as great.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

events like the Hanukkah party. There's something for everyone. Religious customs, great food, live music, and an amazing social atmosphere. Everyone has a great time, and the event shows all of the things that Hillel is capable of providing for students.

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The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

always motivated to do whatever they could to improve Jewish lives on campus. They provide wonderful social, professional, recreational, and religious programs to help students best enjoy college and set them up for their time after graduation.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

October 14, 2009

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October 14, 2009

I grew up in a very tight knit Jewish community with a strong support network constantly there to help me whenever I needed it. When I came to college I didn't know a single person on campus and the first place I went was Hillel. The staff there treated me like family and helped me find activities and organizations that would fit my personality and needs. When I mentioned my interest in music, Hillel helped me and three other girls start an a capella group and have been beyond supportive in every new endeavor we undertake. The organization offers me the help I need and the opportunity to interact with Jews on campus as well with members of the community at large. Hillel organizes itself around the needs of the students and I couldn't imagine my college experience without it.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the personal attention I receive and the real feedback I get to my problems. Everyone is very responsive to the suggestions I make and eager to be helpful in any way possible.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

kind and passionate about their work. They were eager to help me learn about the community and cared deeply about the organization they work for.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

make every activity free and provide a lot more advertising for programs and events. They could provide kosher food for students on a daily basis and allow for some meals to be cooked by students at the Hillel building.

Ways to make it better...

the staff was more consistent. There was a lot of turnover in the administration which made it difficult to form a continuous connection to them over the years.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

the loss of funding and maintaining a strong attendance of the students. It's difficult to get students to go off campus for any activity, especially those that cost money.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

October 13, 2009

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October 13, 2009

During most of High school, most of my extra curricular activities had to do with Judaism. I tutored B'nai Mitzvah students, I sang in a small High Holiday Ensemble, I was involved in my USY chapter, and many more "Jewish-orientated" activities. I found that when I was filling out applications for college that every job, community and volunteer experience was somehow related to Judaism. I wouldn't say that it necessarily bothered me, but when I came to Pitt, I sort of told myself that I was going to "stay away from Hillel" and try to become involved in other things...try to be a little more diverse. Within the first week, I auditioned and was accepted into The VoKols (Hillel's a cappella group) and attended Shabbat services and dinner. It was within that very first week of school that I realized that Hillel was a place that I was not going to be able to stay away from. I am involved in other activities, like I hoped to be, but Hillel has been such a positive and important part of college experience thus far. I have met great friends, found a few jobs and feel so lucky to have this active and warm community on our campus.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The VoKols. Not only have I met some of my closest friends in this a cappella group, but being the President and past Music Director has really strengthened my leadership skills.

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The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Awesome! Always willing to hear new ideas and help out as best they can!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

October 13, 2009

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October 13, 2009

Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be a co-founder of a Jewish-American a cappella group nor a member of the Hillel student board. Not only that, but I went from having one or two Jewish friends in high school to having very few non-Jewish friends by the end of my freshman year of college. I attribute my friends, achievements and campus involvement all through Hillel. One vital aspect of Hillel is its weekly Shabbat dinners. They symbolize the one night of the week when all the stress, anger, sadness and craziness of everyday life come to a complete hault. It's a time to reconnect with friends and fellow students whom we may normally not get to communicate with on an otherwise daily basis. It's a time for students to come together and "leave their problems at the door". Furthermore, shabbat dinners are my moments of zen and what gets me through the week. The moment I walk in the door and see everyone all cleaned up, I take a deep breath, smile, and feel at home. Hillel's active involvement in the Pittsburgh community is phenomenal and unlike any other organization I have been a part of. From volunteering at the local food pantry to connecting graduate students through J'Burgh, Hillel has never failed to involve and reach out to the community nor Pitt, CMU and Duquesne's college campuses.

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

helping me decide what I want to do once I graduate. I hope to live in Israel for a year post graduation and volunteer within various communities. Hillel helped surface my passion for volunteering, kids with special needs and love for Judaism.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the comfort and joy I feel every time I enter the building and engage with students and staff. It's my home away from home.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

unforgettable. Each and every staff member has had a profound and positive impact on the person I am today and my achievements throughout my college career. I respect and admire them for their hard work and dedication to Hillel and the Jewish community.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

October 13, 2009

more

October 13, 2009

Unlike other Hillels, JUC does not simply serve college students. With its high school and young adult programming, Hillel JUC now truly serves a wide, incredibly vulnerable swath of Pittsburgh's Jewish community. Its close relationships with local synagogues and organizations allow its staff to provide programs and services that far surpass other Hillels, whose focus may be limited to their respective campuses. I cannot emphasize enough the profound impact Hillel JUC has on Pittsburgh's Jewish community, or how grateful we are that its staff is so dedicated to Pittsburgh as a whole.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The dedication of its staff and lay leadership. More than other agencies, Hillel JUC's leadership is singularly focused on finding new and innovative ways to fulfill its mission.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

October 13, 2009

more

October 13, 2009

I worked in planning and funding with Hillel JUC and had an opportunity to meet regularly with the Director and President. Hillel JUC is an amazing organization. It is wonderful to walk through the building to see all of the student run programss and to feel the buzz of energy that exists there. JUC provides great resources to students. The activities that are run inside and outside of the building are wonderful, spanning across universities and religous affiliations. Hillel JUC has been recognized nationally and by several of the universities that they serve as a top notch organization. Most telling is a Friday night at the building when three different services are going on and dinner is filled to capacity and beyond!

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The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

extremely dedicated and passionate to serving this population and contributing to Jewish continuity.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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