On December 7, 2021 more than 40 Hillel stakeholders, staff, and students came together in New York City to celebrate Jewish life in Latin America and recognize this year’s esteemed honoree, Georg Lipsztein. There was no mistaking the vibrant and joyous feeling that filled the room after being apart for nearly two years because of the pandemic, and it was wonderful to see both new and returning faces.
During the luncheon, attendees heard from Matthew Bronfman, Chair of Hillel International’s Board of Governors, and longtime supporter of Hillels of Latin America. Matthew noted that the work Hillel does is vital to ensuring the Jewish future, and recognized members of our community for their continued support. The generosity of so many members of the Jewish community helps Hillel instill the love of being Jewish and the commitment to Israel in more than 140,000 college students around the world each year, 6,700 of whom are involved in vibrant communities in Latin America.
This important work has been made more challenging over the past two years in Latin America due to the obstacles posed by the pandemic — but Hillel has risen to meet them. The growth of Jewish life and community, both then and now, would not be possible without this year’s honoree, Georg Lipsztein. Georg has been a Hillel lay leader for more than 18 years and the board chair of Hillel Rio for five years, and was instrumental in making it so students at Hillels in Latin America could travel on Birthright Israel trips. He has held true to the strength and vitality of Hillel Rio: His commitment and passion to Jewish college students in Latin America is unwavering – and for that we thank him.
Another speaker was Gabriela BarDavid, a student from Hillel Rio who shared her Hillel story and the impact the organization has made on her life and connection to Judaism. Gabriela said, “Hillel Rio opened many doors for me. It helped me develop myself both personally and professionally. I never imagined that I would feel a part of the Jewish community like I do today.”
As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, Gabriela shared that, “Being a part of this community, living an authentically Jewish life is not only my dream, but my grandparents’ dream as well.”
For more information about Hillels of Latin America, please contact Marcia Kelner Polisuk (firstname.lastname@example.org).