WASHINGTON – A Hillel International program that encourages students to come together and connect through conversation was recently awarded the first ever Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom. As the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, Hillel International developed “Ask Big Questions” in 2011 to provide resources to tens of thousands of students across the country to tackle the most challenging subjects young people face today, encouraging students to engage in dialogue, rather than shy away from valuable conversations.
The prize was established by the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah to recognize programs that help people apply Jewish wisdom to enhance the lives of both individuals and communities, and shape a better world. Out of more than 200 applicants, Ask Big Questions was awarded the prize’s top national accolade.
During the past five years, Ask Big Questions has created dozens of conversation guides that use Big Questions to frame discussions on holidays, social justice, diversity and inclusion, and other topics that college-age students might find difficult to discuss. Big Questions are questions that matter to everyone, that anyone can answer, and that serve as bridges for connection. The conversation guides have been downloaded by 40,000+ users and provide a powerful, scalable approach for both professional educators and student leaders to use in order to engage themselves and each other through Jewish wisdom.
“We seek to help people relate to one another and the world we share as sources of wisdom, and to help them explore Jewish teachings as deep wells from which to draw,” said Rabbi Josh Feigelson, founder and executive director of Ask Big Questions. “In my experience, the best Torah is the Torah that answers questions we all share as human beings, and it is those questions we focus on at Ask Big Questions. This prize belongs to everyone who is part of the Hillel family.”
Ask Big Questions is using a portion of its prize money to give back to the local Hillels utilizing the conversation guides with the biggest impact. Ask Big Questions has launched a competition inviting local Hillels to apply for one of three $1,500 grants. Applicants are asked to demonstrate how their campuses are creatively and innovatively implementing Ask Big Questions into their programming. Through the information collected from the application process, the contest is also designed to identify successful practices to ensure campus Hillels of every size are able to create more opportunities for discussion and learning among their student populations. The winners will be announced in early February.