Hillel, an organization on campus that provides services for the Jewish community at QC, received the outstanding campus award in December.
Located in room 206 of the Student Union, Hillel offers prayer service, computer access, lectures, bible readings and even video games for students to enjoy. Access to internships, scholarships and jobs are also available through the Queens College Career Services department.
The executive director at Hillel is Uri Cohen. Cohen has been a part of Hillel for over four years. The previous director was Rabbi Moshe Shur, who served as director for 32 years.
“I feel so fortunate to be director at Hillel,” Cohen said. “Receiving the Hillel Outstanding Campus award says a lot about the QC students and it motivates us to do even better going forward.”
Cohen has brought many changes to Hillel, such as renovating the Hillel space in the summer of 2013, increasing the organization’s budget to almost double what it used to be and bringing more financial resources to Jewish life on campus.
“We overhauled the staff and programmatic direction, focusing on peer-to-peer relationship building as the key to building community and encouraging new students to get involved” Cohen said.
Jackie Shapiro, 25, is the associate director of development at Hillel and attended Hillel when she was a student at Queens College.
“Hillel has changed over the past few years and has become more inclusive and pluralistic in how much it embraces Jewish values,” Shapiro said.
One can explore their Jewish heritage further with the Birthright trip, in which students travel to Israel with a group. Airfare, accommodations, and some meals are provided for by Birthright Israel. One hundred students from Queens College attend the trip each year.
Ezro Yadgarov, a senior majoring in psychology, is a student who regularly attends Hillel.
“Hillel has been a great experience,” Yadgarov said. “I have connected a lot with my peers, made new friends and long lasting connections.”
Hillel has partnered with the Orthodox union and the programming is student driven. Jenna Citron is the director of Jewish Student Life and Ruben Shimonov serves as the cross-community engagement coordinator.
Hillel’s focus is on student life, community building and leadership development and it is connected with some of the other Jewish groups on campus such as the Israel Student Association, Jewish Learning Fellowship, Persian Club, Israel Business Club, Tizmoret and Bukharian Club.
Yasmin Pinhasov-Malaev, a junior studying communication science disorders, is the founder of the Bukharian Club and serves as the president. The club focuses on Bukharian culture in Judaism.
“I’ve noticed throughout the past two years I have been at Hillel that it has gone from being purely religious to a club with more diversity,” Pinhasov-Malaev said.
Elan Pinhasov-Malaev, a sophomore studying liberal arts, is Yasmin’s brother and attends events that the Bukharian club holds each month.
“This club helps you socialize and reunite Jewish culture,” he said. “It has big potential because there is a big community.”
Hillel is experiencing growth each year and has served over 1270 students, with a 10 percent increase in new students from last year.
Hillel organizations are offered on 550 college campuses across the world including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Russia and Israel.