Jewish stu­dent life at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is going in dynamic new direc­tions thanks to a revi­tal­ized Hillel House and increased stu­dent pro­gram­ming, which are strength­ening the stu­dent expe­ri­ence and pre­senting exciting new avenues for syn­ergy with the Jewish Studies program.

North­eastern recently acquired the Hillel building on St. Stephen Street through a gift from the North­eastern Hillel Advi­sory Com­mittee Inc., an agree­ment that high­lights a shared com­mit­ment to sup­port the Jewish com­mu­nity on campus and max­i­mize oppor­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents. Through this part­ner­ship, the building has under­gone sig­nif­i­cant ren­o­va­tions, including new lighting, flooring, win­dows and sig­nif­i­cant roof work. These improve­ments have trans­formed Hillel into a vibrant center of Jewish life at North­eastern, with increased space for ser­vices, a ren­o­vated library with super­vised evening study hours and a living area for vis­iting Jewish scholars.

Mean­while, more stu­dents are attending social events such as film screen­ings, din­ners and com­mu­nity ser­vice days than ever before, and they are building strong rela­tion­ships by gath­ering after classes to cook dinner or relax in the game room, according to Rabbi Karen Sil­berman, exec­u­tive director of North­eastern Hillel.

There is more par­tic­i­pa­tion, and there is more energy,” Sil­berman said.

The group is also cul­ti­vating new col­lab­o­ra­tions with the Jewish Studies pro­gram and other stu­dent groups. Sil­berman has invited Jewish Studies pro­fes­sors to speak with stu­dents between meals and Shabbat ser­vices on Friday nights. Stu­dent par­tic­i­pa­tion in birthright trips to Israel has also risen dra­mat­i­cally in recent years; at least 120 stu­dents are expected to be involved this year.

This has reen­er­gized every­body, and the ren­o­va­tions have pro­vided a sense of renewal,” said North­eastern Hillel Advi­sory Com­mittee pres­i­dent Nathaniel Rickles, an assis­tant pro­fessor in the School of Phar­macy. The advi­sory com­mittee is cur­rently com­prised of fac­ulty and alumni, and Rickles said he expects it to grow and include stu­dent representation.

Last year, renowned scholar Lori Lefkovitz joined North­eastern as the first full-​​time chair of the Jewish Studies pro­gram, becoming the inau­gural holder of the Rud­erman Pro­fes­sor­ship of Jewish Studies. Lefkovitz brings a diverse back­ground of inter­dis­ci­pli­nary training in Jewish Studies and pro­gram devel­op­ment, and she is expected to rein­vig­o­rate the pro­gram through new activ­i­ties and expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties, while working with fac­ulty to expand the curriculum.

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Hillel was estab­lished by a group of fac­ulty and stu­dents in 1962. Hillel is the world’s largest campus-​​based Jewish orga­ni­za­tion in the world, and it strives to enrich the lives of Jewish stu­dents through spir­i­tual ser­vices, com­mu­nity ser­vice, social events and Jewish learning.