Last week, Hillel International President and CEO Eric Fingerhut met with students in UC San Diego Hillel’s Triton Jewish Leaders incubator. Fingerhut, a former Congressman from Ohio, has led the Hillel Movement in exciting new directions during his four years of service, implementing a strategic plan across the movement named “The Drive to Excellence.”
Eric celebrated the importance of UC San Diego Hillel’s multifaceted outreach approach; by investing in students as the creators of Jewish life on campus the result is a richer, more inclusive community with a greater ability to serve its constituents. TJL is reimagining what Jewish campus life looks like.
In the 10 months since it’s launch, the platform has grown to include 44 diverse student leaders, who have launched 94 unique programs and events involving 1,044 other UC San Diego students since the start of the academic year. This last quarter, TJLs have developed student-led Shabbat Services and a campus wide open-mic, event, among other new creations. The impact that these students have made in such a short period of time can be felt throughout campus and beyond.
Fingerhut engaged with each Triton Jewish Leader present, learning about their initiatives and experiences within the incubator. Jesse Edelman, a third-year transfer student, shared her plans to build a network of locally-based lawyers willing to sponsor shadowing opportunities for pre-law students. She seeks to provide “Jewish students that are interested in law the chance to sit down with practicing lawyers and discuss what this career path actually entails”.
When asked about her experience as a TJL, Jesse expressed her gratitude for the incubator, citing the leadership training she’s received and the networking opportunities it has provided as crucial to achieving her goals. “Being a TJL not only has given me a platform to extend my personal interests, but it has connected me to a network of other outstanding students that share the same passion for the Jewish community and enriching it throughout UC San Diego”.
This sentiment is shared among fellow Triton Jewish Leader Steven Birger. This quarter, Steven founded TAMID, a student-run investment fund and consulting group that works with Israeli start up companies.
When reflecting over this experience, Steven noted that, “Hillel has made an impact on my college experience by allowing me to feel a part of an inclusive family with a common goal of the pursuit of social justice. Becoming a TJL has given me unprecedented guidance and allowed me to grow intellectually, socially, and spiritually.”