Home August 2011 New Director at UCI

New Director at UCI

The end of the 2010-2011 school year has brought new changes to UCI’s Hillel. The organization will be getting a new Hillel director for the upcoming school year.  She has already become the talk of the community.

Rebecca Goldberg is a 24 year-old dual masters program graduate from both Hebrew Union College and USC.  She earned one masters in Jewish Communal Service and the other in social work.

“She’s incredibly passionate about three things: Jewish people-hood, education and building community,” Jordan Fruchtman, OC Hillel’s executive director, said warmly of Greenberg.  “It was kind of a perfect fit for her to come here and start working with the students.”

Goldberg’s advent to the UCI Jewish community comes at a crucial time for UCI Jewish student life.  The pro-Israel community on campus is still dealing with the aftershocks of the Muslim Student Union’s orchestrated interruptions of a speech featuring Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren – aftershocks that have primarily taken form in the MSU turning the so-called “Irvine 11’s” trial into a campus-wide controversy.

Regardless, Fruchtman is more than confident in Greenberg’s abilities to improve Jewish student life at UCI.

“Her main focus will be on four areas,” Fruchtman explained, leaning forward.  “One, trying to revamp our Shabbat program… we’re trying to have Shabbat dinners every other week.  And before I got here, I heard our staff was working all day Friday to cook the food.  That’s twenty percent of your work time.  Is that really what you want your program director with a masters in Jewish communal service to be doing?”

Along with Hillel’s new program director comes a change in the structure of Hillel’s student executive board.  Rather than four members, the board will now feature eight members, each with his or her own specific job description such as Shabbat chair and community service chair.

“Rebecca’s second point of focus is to work with the student board of Hillel as an advisor,” Fruchtman went on.  “She also has three engagement interns under her.  They’re all UCI students and Greeks outside of AEPi and AEPhi.  They get paid a small stipend and their job is to build community; each of them has to find 40 previously unengaged Jewish students on the campus, so that by the end of the year there will be 120 Jewish students in the community who weren’t there before.  These three students are really excited, really social.  They’re going for a week of training in St. Louis at the end of August with Hillel International and students all over the country.”

Goldberg will also be overseeing OC Hillel’s social media team, comprising four UCI student interns who will utilize OC Hillel’s blog, Facebook ,Twitter, Youtube, and website in order to disseminate the students’ perspective and feelings about Jewish life at UCI.

“It’s hard to find someone who’s passionate about community but also has social and professional skills,” Fruchtman said.  “Rebecca’s terrific, and she has a great sense of humor, a great personality.  She’s just great to be around.  And she’s all about building Jewish community.  Our philosophy is to invest in the students and they’ll invest in the community.  We grow students and help them become better as people.”

1 COMMENT

  1. In response to the article entitled “New Director at UCI”
    As a past president of California State University Fullerton (CSUF) Hillel, Hillel International’s representative in the World Union of Jewish Students, a Graduate student at CSUF and a past employee of Orange County Hillel I was both excited and upset about the article introducing the new Hillel director. A quote from Jordan Fruchtman stated, “One, trying to revamp our Shabbat program… we’re trying to have Shabbat dinners every other week. And before I got here, I heard our staff was working all day Friday to cook the food. That’s twenty percent of your work time. Is that really what you want your program director with a masters in Jewish communal service to be doing?” This comment led to a flood gate of feelings that have been an issue of contention for many of us in the community. Before Mr. Fruchtman became director, Hillel of Orange County provided a Shabbat meal nearly every Friday at UCI. Students flooded the Shabbat dinners from all over the county. Since Fruchtman became director, Hillel program and funding priorities have shifted. Orange County Hillel no longer supports local campuses with the funding they need. Hillel at CSUF is no longer supported by a part time Hillel staff member and continues to struggle to find funding for Shabbats on campus. CSUF has approximately 36,000 students on campus, a new dorm facility, and is the largest CSU school in the state. It is also unfortunate not one student from CSUF will be on the “new student board” mentioned in the article. This sends me the message that Jewish leadership positions are not being evenly distributed and that local CSU and Chapman students are not valued stakeholders in our community. Hillel also diminished Shabbat meals for students at UCI and Chapman. Further, community colleges have been left without proper Hillel support.

    Being Jewish on campus in Orange County has become more focused on defending our Judaism than celebrating it. In the past four years, Hillel of Orange County’s focus on combating anti-Semitism, has diminished its focus on Jewish celebration. I am a firm believer that we need both. It is not a waste to have professionals creating Jewish celebration for 20% of their time. In fact, we as a community need to question what a professional’s education level has to do with celebrating Jewish traditions and harvesting community? It is my hope that the new Hillel director provides support for all schools in the county, has more than a singular focus on UCI’s issues, and promotes celebration through traditions and rituals.

    Hillel’s motto is Jews doing Jewish. My vision is for Hillel of Orange County to migrate back to that motto and rejoice in our community.
    Respectfully,
    Rachel Schiff, CSUF Past President & 2005 Hillel International WUJS Representative

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