Jewish Peoplehood as Practice with Kol Hillel in Ukraine

May 3, 2011

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


Matthew Vogel, Executive Director of Hillel at Baruch College in NYC, wrote in the ePhilanthropy newsletter about an international Hillel event where " 24 students and six professional staff members from Baruch College, the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Israel, and the Kiev Hillel met in Ukraine to explore Jewish Peoplehood in a program called Kol Hillel. In addition to having seder with the Odessa Hillel and Shabbat with the Kiev Hillel, students also had the opportunity to visit Jewish communities in Zhitomer, Berdichev and Uman. The first seder however, was a particularly special moment for everyone involved. Participants were asked to bring their families traditions to our unified and self-led seder. We sang dayenu and whipped around scallions in the Persian tradition, we ate a Hillel sandwich with everything on the seder plate instead of just charoset and maror as in the Indian tradition and we sang and danced as one people in Hebrew, English and Russian.


This project was a natural fit for our collective students from Hillels across the world and was recognized by the Reut Institute last year as being on the cutting-edge of fostering a global Jewish connection for college students. Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life has over 500 campus centers across the world that largely operate independently to serve the evolving needs of Jewish students. This initiative was the first to leverage our global network to illuminate Jewish Peoplehood in a tangible and meaningful way. I can say without hesitation that this experience is the pinnacle of my career and we can only keep moving forward. Next year we will bring the cohort to Israel and the following year will see everyone reconnect in New York. We felt it was vital to start this initiative in Ukraine as it showed all the participants that vibrant and deeply engaged Jewish communities do indeed exist throughout the world and not just in the New York / Israel dichotomy that is often highlighted."

Updated: May. 11, 2011