Ilya Bratman grew up in Moscow, Russia and immigrated to Pittsburgh, PA when he was 15.
Bratman never thought that he would become a Hillel professional or even a devoted Jew.
He grew up in an environment where the only Jewishness included the line in the passport designating his identity and the occasional harassment from his classmates.
After coming to America, he yearned for a Jewish connection and traveled to Israel to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. However, his relationship with Judaism and his Jewish roots did not flourish until he found himself celebrating Rosh Hashana at Sadam Hussein’s palace in Baghdad, while being deployed as an American combat soldier with the 1st Armor Division during the 2003 war in Iraq. This experience had reawakened a strong bond to the Jewish people and Jewish traditions and had inspired Ilya to begin a journey of exploration and self-discovery.
After a variety of adventures, Ilya became the executive director of the Hillel at Baruch College. “His immigration and U.S. Army experiences have allowed him to have a unique perspective on Jewish life on campus and Jewish continuity and have motivated him to search for excellence in our programming and engagement practices,” said Arthur Feldshteyn, chair of the Board of Directors at the Hillel at Baruch College.
Appreciating the incredible diversity of the Jewish student population on Baruch’s campus, Bratman strives to create initiatives that address the needs of all student groups on campus. Said Bratman: “Our strength is our diversity. If we work together as various ethnic and religious groups on campus, we could achieve so much and we could promote unity and understanding across the spectrum of Jewish life, while building the bridges necessary for a positive and productive environment on campus.”