It's hard to believe the academic year is almost over. This past year was difficult, and challenged Hillel's undertaking to serve as the Jewish "home away from home" at the University of Hartford. Despite this year's challenges, our goal will always remain the same: providing a welcoming and vibrant Jewish campus experience for all, that fulfills and enriches the diverse spiritual and practical needs for Jewish students and their friends.
We have had a busy year with lots of virtual programs, one-on-one meetings with students, leadership training for our student board, and socially distant outdoor gatherings. There are so many exciting things to brag about: from the 37 students who engaged in our new 10-week Jewish Learning Fellowship, to the more than 60 students who joined us for Passover meals and programming, to our "Shabbat Sha-Bag" initiative that provided the Shabbat experience for students wherever they were.
Hillel has also been a leader in helping to create a new food pantry on campus, opening this spring. Despite restrictions on gatherings this year, and even with many students choosing to stay remote for the year, we engaged with close to 200 students this semester, nearly 40 percent of them on a weekly basis. But the most exciting and impactful change this year was, through the generous support of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, Hillel International, and University of Hartford administration, we were able to add another full-time staff member to our team!
Fortunately for us, a meaningful Jewish experience is different for everyone, which allows us to be creative in how we engage Jewish students. We cannot be successful without the support and guidance of our alumni, parents, community members, foundations and philanthropic funds, and of course the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford for their constant and unwavering support. I encourage everyone to join me in continuing to provide Jewish students at the University of Hartford with inspiring programming and a welcoming community.
Director of Jewish Student Life
University of Hartford
Student President Update
Being the President of Hillel at UHart is so special to me because I get to meet other Jewish students, provide a place for them to be themselves, and connect with others who share similar values. Even with the obstacles of COVID-19, our staff has been incredibly accommodating and helpful, and we are lucky that we have continued to program both virtually and safely in person. It was the best of both worlds for all students. One of my favorite
things about Hillel is how welcoming and friendly the community is. Although being president comes with a lot of responsibilities, in the end it is so worth it and I wouldn't change it for the world.
Class of 2023
Introducing Emma Strumpf
Manager of Programming and Engagement
We are thrilled to welcome Emma Strumpf to the University of Hartford Hillel! Emma was born and raised in Connecticut and attended the University of Connecticut. Emma recently completed a two-year Hillel International Springboard Innovation Fellowship with the University at Albany Hillel, where she was successful at engaging students of all backgrounds and building an inclusive Jewish community across campus. She enjoys music (she plays the drums, piano, and sings!), reading, cooking, and catching up on reality TV.
In her newly created role as Manager of Programming and Engagement, Emma will be responsible for enhancing support for Jewish life across the University of Hartford by creating new community building and educational opportunities for Jewish students and their friends. Emma has already started to form meaningful relationships with students, partnerships with other campus organizations, and looks forward to building strong leaders in the UHart community and beyond. We are very excited to have her on the team!
We are grateful for our partners at the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, Hillel International, and the University of Hartford for their support in the creation of this position.
Spotlight Program: Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF)
Through the generosity of donors in our local community, we were able to launch a virtual Jewish Learning Fellowship in the fall, to wide success. JLF is a weekly seminar, run by Hillel professionals, where students get together, build community, and learn about Judaism in a space where they feel open and comfortable. There are two goals: the first being to gain a deeper
understanding of Jewish text, and the second to expand their Jewish community on campus. After our successful fall pilot, we were able to run two more cohorts this spring, for a total of 37 different students participating this year, and many returning! What we found through our survey at the end of the Fall semester was an overwhelmingly positive experience:
Students who participate in JLF are more likely to attend Hillel events: While 65 percent of the students were involved prior to JLF, 100 percent have expressed interest in attending future Hillel events.
"I am so so glad I was a part of this seminar and I would love to participate in this or something like it again!"
JLF is a successful tool for recruitment: 100% of students would recommend JLF to their fellow students.
"I really loved it and am very happy I did it! I am also going to highly recommend it to my friends who are Jewish and did not do it this year!"
JLF provides students with strong mentorship and a sense of Jewish community: 100% of students agreed or strongly agreed that they developed a relationship with a mentor through the JLF program.
"I loved our instructor, and how she made us feel welcome to share our personal beliefs. She made sure everyone's opinion was respected. She guided us through the questions, giving us hints when we needed them. I like the new material and how it brought students together as a Jewish community."