HomeFebruary 2012Bashert Moment

Bashert Moment

When Daniel Y. Harris became aware of the opening for an executive director at Hillel Foundation of Orange County, he jumped at the chance.  His wife is a Tustin native, he always loved Hillel and the position would give him the chance to combine three important qualities – Jewish professional, fundraiser and Jewish educator.  It was a “bashert moment” – a perfect twist of fate.  There were even bigger reasons, he said.
“What attracts me so much to this Hillel is the incredible potential; the remarkable board president, Rick Matros; and the remarkable directors of each Hillel, Sarah Austin, Rebecca Goldberg and Eran Hoch, who have been handling all the details of running a Hillel without an executive director for a semester,” Harris said.  “I can bring my experience to a well functioning Hillel.”
He added, “I’m not starting from square one.  This is an active, engaged, fun Hillel.”  His goal is to continue to grow it to become “a major organization in the Jewish life of Orange County,” taking advantage of the great increase in the Jewish population to bring about the “burgeoning of Jewish campus life.”
Currently, Orange County Hillel has directors f or the University of California – Irvine (Goldberg) and Chapman University (Austin), as well as an Israeli shaliach (Hoch).  Austin’s responsibilities will now include California State University – Fullerton, and Harris hopes he will be able to increase Hillel’s outreach efforts to community college campuses in the area.
According to Harris, Hillel plays “a major mission in the continuity of Jewish life,” at a time when students can make many choices about how they will spend their time.  “We want to do everything we can to provide a positive, engaged message that is inspired and full of ideas.  We want to show people that Hillel touches all aspects of their Jewish lives – culture, art, poetry, film, education, religion and more.”
A published poet himself, Harris has his third book coming out soon and has been nominated for several prizes for previous works.  He has also taught at the University of California – Berkeley, and Sonoma State University.
Harris, who said he made his first donation to the United Jewish Appeal at his Bar Mitzvah, is no stranger to playing major roles in organized Jewish life.  Prior to starting his job at Hillel in January, he served as campaign director of the Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region.  He has also been the executive director of the Jewish Community Center of Sonoma County.
To meet Harris or learn more about the Hillel Foundation of Orange County, contact him at Daniel@ochillel.net or (949) 435-3444.

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