As a Hillel professional, I believe my most important role is to build community. But, as it is written in Deuteronomy Rabbah, “A community is too heavy to carry alone”. At Hillel, unlike for profit companies, we do not aim to serve a client or customer. I believe firmly that students must be active in creating the Jewish community they wish to be a part of. As Hillel staff, we must be able to see the leadership potential in a student, understand their passions and build their confidence so they can create new programs, initiatives and internships. Our role is to provide support and encouragement. In my year and a half working with Hillel, I’ve learned that creating a program without the investment of students is a waste of time and a missed opportunity for a student to gain leadership experience.
As students become more involved, they begin to become invested in the Jewish community at large. This model will help students stay engaged in Jewish life after they graduate, move and potentially enter into a new unfamiliar Jewish community. If there is under-served population or an unreached potential, students will have the initiative and drive to create meaningful programs.
Being on a college campus provides us with a unique opportunity. It allows us to benefit from the talents of a diverse community of students from different backgrounds with interests across all majors. This diversity strengthens our community. At UD Hillel, we have begun hiring Visual Communications students as graphic design interns to help with marketing and Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Management students as our kitchen interns to cook Shabbat dinner every week. This provides an opportunity for students to get professional experience in their field while making a unique contribution to our Hillel.
Hillel strives to empower students and it’s my pleasure to be part of this experience for University of Delaware students. Hillels all over the globe are helping to shape a better future by creating invested Jewish leaders eager to make an impact. As I’ve always believed, it takes the work of many- with different skills and talents- to create a vibrant Jewish community on campus.
Nicole Wasilus has been the Program Director at University of Delaware Hillel since June 2012. A graduate of Penn State University, she is excited to begin her professional career in Hillel. Nicole advises UD Hillel’s six Jewish student organizations and supervises ten student interns. She is looking forward to planning UD Hillel’s first Alternative Spring Break trip to Argentina this year.