Joel Bond was adopted at the age of two by an African-American Christian family.
When he was 12, he found out that his biological mother was a Russian Jewish woman. “I believe that you cannot make decisions regarding your future if you don’t learn from your past,” he says. “In order to become the man I wanted to be, I had to understand Judaism” At that point in his life, he made it a priority to embrace Judaism and his Jewish identity.
Bond had wanted to participate in Hillel ever since discovering his passion for working with Jewish youth. After serving as a liaison between Hillel and the student government at San Diego State, he realized that he could use his story of embracing his Jewish identity to help other students.
Last spring, he discovered the Springboard Fellowship, a two-year program for recent college graduates, sponsored by Hillel International, designed to cultivate future Jewish professionals. This inaugural cohort consists of young adults specializing in innovation, digital strategy or design thinking. The Fellows learn valuable skills and apply them directly to campus Jewish life at a local Hillel.
Bond is working at Beach Hillel in Long Beach, Ca., where he aims to strengthen recruiting efforts and create a stronger network of partners for his Hillel. Explains Bond: “I will do this by utilizing design thinking in all aspects of Hillel. I’ve learned that anything from a Model Knesset to Hillel TV—a monthly, student-run video production—can be used to foster Jewish identity, in college and beyond.”
To learn more about our work building better Hillels and the Jewish future, and to meet two more fellows, click here.