“As an intern, I see how engaging Jewish peers on issues that matter to them creates more meaningful Jewish experiences. These interactions can shape their Jewish identity and provide a foundation that they can build upon for the rest of their lives.” - Andrew, Intern at Penn Hillel
Today, there are more than 546 interns on 60 campuses. Since its inception in 2006, the engagement project has invested in 2,800 student interns who have cultivated 110,000 relationships.
Hillel understands that students relate best to other students.
Engagement is the act of reaching others, getting to know them, and connecting with them on the basis of their interests, ambitions, and passions. Hillel attempts to engage others, seeking first to understand them, and then to identify common interests, offerings, or experiences that meet them where they are. With a focus on relationships and not on participation, we create vibrant, relevant, Jewish life across campus, enhancing the accessibility of Jewish experiences for all students through conversations with peers.
Hillel invests in training student interns to serve as engagers, organizers and educators of their fellow students.
Our engagement interns tap their personal social networks (fraternities or sororities, business majors, foodies, artists) to connect friends and friends of friends to each other, and to launch student-run Jewish initiatives on campus. They learn to build authentic relationships, create new Jewish experiences, expand communities, and impart sophisticated and relevant Jewish content.
We understand that the success of this initiative depends upon deep and meaningful supervision. That’s why intern supervisors include Senior Jewish Educators; authentic Jewish teachers, relationship builders, and community organizers who have a deep knowledge of Judaism and considerable educational skills. The educators mentor and teach the interns, and meet students through the interns’ social networks and their own engagement efforts.
The takeaways from this internship stay relevant once the internship concludes and after graduation: Hillel is creating a pipeline of future Jewish leaders, prepared to create accessible Jewish experiences with and for their post-college communities.
The engagement structure can be leveraged with other organizations as well. In partnership with Hillel, BBYO, Union for Reform Judaism and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism help support 26 interns on 13 campuses. These interns help engage even more students in meaningful and relevant Jewish life, using their past associations as a connecting point.
An independent study (PDF File) has found that Hillel’s “educators and interns make a measurable difference on the students they meet.”