This is the first in a series of blog posts by Hillel professionals, sharing why they love what they do.
“Oh, you are the Hillel Director! How old are you?” Forty, I say.
“And do you have a family? Are you married?” Yes, I have two children, I continue. My son and daughter are both three years old – twins. No, I am not married. I am a single mother.
“Wow! How do you do that? Isn’t Hillel work a twenty-four hour a day job?” Actually, I say, I do not think about my work that way because I really love what I do. I love being a Hillel Director.
The above conversation actually occurred; just as I was sitting down to write this piece. I sincerely love my position as a Hillel professional. After nearly eighteen years working in the Jewish community, I believe there is no more critical and exciting place to be in the Jewish world than on a college campus. This is the future of the Jewish people. And I have the ability and potential each and every day to impact that future for the good. My work at Hillel allows me, as a professional, to have amazing opportunities to influence, challenge and guide the lives of young adults.
As a feminist, I also find that my work as a Hillel professional fulfills my passion for women’s leadership. College campuses are increasingly dominated by women, and these women are taking active leadership roles on and off campus.
Through Hillel, young women can better understand the Jewish values that drive their interests, as well as see themselves as part of a long tradition of Jewish women that have changed the world. My ability to personally connect with young women as a mentor and a teacher is unique.
Young women are looking for role models and multiple examples of how to navigate the complicated messages they receive from our culture about the lives they should seek to live. For this reason alone, I feel a great privilege to serve as a Hillel Director who is also a strong woman and a mother.
If I am going to be honest, then I must admit I have another selfish reason for my love of Hillel. My colleagues are fantastic! From my local Hillel at the University of Delaware to the larger network of directors and other Hillel professionals, I feel part of a larger family.
I enjoy greeting and being greeted by my colleagues every morning, as well as celebrating Jewish holidays and birthdays together. My children feel at home at Hillel on Shabbat, easily finding students to play with them and make trouble in the building. I often call a colleague at another Hillel when I am trouble shooting and problem solving an issue. And I always learn new ideas and find deeper friendship.
What more could one ask for in a job! Well, more money. But in the words of Mastercard, the Hillel experience is PRICELESS.
Ronit Sherwin is the Executive Director of the Kristol Center for Jewish Life at the University of Delaware/Hillel Foundation, where she began in 2011. As a Hillel professional, Ronit loves being inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of college students, while also using their energy to help run after her three-year old twins at Shabbat dinners on campus.