top of page

HIllel at Eastern Michigan University

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

For the past three years (2016-2019), I have taken an active role within the Jewish student organization on campus, "Hillel," including having held the Israeli Chair for the past two years. When a friend first introduced to Hillel, I only had one goal — to be included in the Jewish community of Eastern Michigan. Soon after establishing myself as an active member at Hillel events, my peers elected me to the E-Board. While on E-Board, I have had the opportunity to shape the vision of not only Hillel but the Jewish community on campus.


 

Summary:

Hillel is a Jewish national student organization that operates on college campuses to foster a Jewish community for students. The trained staff at HCAM (Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan) pass on the traditions and values of the organization from one generation of


students to the next. These professionals work to provide students with opportunities to have different experiences related to Jewish life, like participating in peer-facilitated Jewish learning initiatives, travel experiences (such as Birthright Israel), networking with Jewish mentors and educators, organizing Jewish events on campus, and supporting students if there is an anti-Semitism and/ or anti-Israeli incident on campuses.


Organization Goal: To help grow and sustain Jewish life. Help students develop their Jewish identity during their years in college and provide


an open, supportive space for students who were hurt by anti-Semitism behaviors on campus.

What did I do:





First, I started the plan by design modern graphics (See Appendix A) for Hillel, focusing on Hillel at Eastern Michigan University (Hillel@EMU). First, I designed a new logo for Hillel, to make it more updated and refresh the old look. Then I used the new logo on all the other new graphic materials for the newsletter, and social media graphics for Hillel events.

Second, I wanted the university officials to have access to a guide book, for what to do in case of a crisis. For example, when anti-Israeli propaganda outbreaks on campus, or when anti-Semite actions occur on campus. I asked the headquarters of Hillel @EMU, called HCAM if they have such a guide and found out they do. Then, I got a hold on that guide and distributed it to the university officials. Having access to a clear crisis plan will help university officials to refer for grounded useful information about handling hate actions against minorities on campus.

Thirdly, I create four email list; Hillel @EMU participants, potential donors, community supporters, university officials, and organization supervisors. Holding a list of the organization audience divided into relevant groups will help Hillel @EMU send information in a practical and useful way, and to match the related information to the appropriate audience.

Fourthly, I had a high responsibility role in the organization event planning and execution. Here’s an outline of what I did to plan events and how I helped execute it;

IsrAID


  • Wrote a press release

  • Designed flyer

  • Sent emails to university officials

    • The email called for the representatives to attend the event and share it with relevant people.


Israeli Trivia

Designed flyer

Made a Kahoot

Promoted on email newsletter

Coffee Hour

  • Designed a flyer

  • Promoted on email newsletter

Movie Night

  • Designed a flyer

  • Promoted on email newsletter

Israeli Presentation

  • Made the power point

  • Wrote an introduction for an opening narrative

  • Held two class lectures

  • Promoted on email newsletter

  • Reported anti-Israeli verbal attack to HCAM representative to report it to student government and university police

  • Made a responsive video


Torah on Tap

  • Designed a flyer (Appendix A, p.5)

  • Promoted event on the newsletter

Hamantaschen Making

  • Designed a flyer

  • Bought groceries

  • Facilitated the event

  • Made a recap video to post on social media


Lastly, I used the email lists I made to send out a weekly newsletter. The newsletter called “Israeli Fun Fact” and was sent out every Wednesday. Total of 10 newsletters. The goal of the newsletter was to encourage engagement, reconnect the Hillel participants to Israel, tide Israel with a positive correlation, and provide entertainment.

How did I feel about what I did:

I felt a great responsibility in doing what I did to help Hillel grow and develop its ground for a supportive community to Jews on campus. As an Israeli Jew, I feel the role of an ambassador, and I am happy I could connect my knowledge as a PR practitioner to help an organization I support to much.

I managed to stay very close to the things I planned on doing at the proposal and managed to expend my actions with my creativity to do more. I had to tackle some challenges I didn’t think about when first planned an event but responded well. For example, when I prepared the Israeli presentation, my goal was to share personal information about my culture. I did not expect to have to respond to six anti-Israel students who came to attack me during my presentation verbally. However, answering the way I did, with a personal video on social media and an official report to the police – I got a lot of support from students at EMU and passed my message of peace, and inclusion.


 

Research:                                                         

  • Whether or not it was helpful to plan the way you did and to conduct and prepare for the project

The research I conducted split into two sections: online resources and an interview with Shelby Bruseloff, the HCAM Director of Jewish student life.

The primary research, interview, helped me:

  • Get ideas for events according to the needs of the organization

  • Understand the difference between Hillel international and HCAM

  • Understand the uniqueness of which the organization hierarchy and culture affect its operations

  • Understand where Hillel gets funding

  • Get a hold of the crisis plan of HCAM

The online research helped me:

  • Get a grasp on community supporters

  • Prepare the Israeli presentation (content)

  • Get ideas for designs

  • Get ideas for events

  • Prepare Israeli Fun Facts newsletters (content)

  • Research promotional tactics helped especially with the promotion of IsrAID which was the largest event I executed

 

Goals:

The original goals of Hillel, which also applies specifically to Hillel @EMU, split into four:

            Please see plan proposal for information more in-depth

  1. Grow and sustain Jewish life on campus

  2. Supporting Jewish students

  3. Helping students connect to Israel

  4. Supporting education

The general structure that helps Hillel reach its goals are:

  • Participants are welcome in all events but are not forced to participate in any of them

  • Fully functioning Executive Board that meets regularly

  • Constant financial support

  • Full-time professionals contribute with guidance to allow students to take leadership initiative and grow

 

Objectives:

In my initial proposal, my outcome objectives included; 10 more followers on Instagram by the end of the semester (was 248), and 2% increase of people showing up for Hillel events (was an average of 10 people)

Evaluation:

  • Currently 251 followers on Instagram

    • Target not achieved

  • Event engagement was much better; we had a lot more shows to events this semester with an average of 15!

    • Target achieved

The only outcome objective that failed to meet was the number of new followers. The social media manager of Hillel at EMU did not use my graphics on the feed, only on the story. I think that is one of the reasons we didn’t increase our followers. However, I completed all of the other goals and even more. I genuinely feel I am leaving a strong legacy of a more functioning Jewish community at EMU.

Output Objectives and Programming:

In my initial proposal, my output objectives included; design graphics to display on all social media channels, create four email lists sorted by audience type, create a specific crisis plan, have an active presence on social media, and send out weekly newsletters.

Output Objectives: how it was planned, and how was it executed  

  • Design graphics to display on all social media channels.

    • Completed successfully

    • Canva was very helpful

  • Create four email lists, sorted by audience types: participants, potential donors, community supporters, and university officials.

    • Created five email lists successfully (See Appendix C, p.7

    • I passed a sign-in sheet during our events asking who would like to join the weekly Israeli fun fact newsletter. Also, I asked on our social media Facebook group who would like to join.

  • Create a specific crisis intervention plans and distribute them to the relevant people

    • I did not create a crisis plan, but I did get a hold on the existing crisis plan and spread it to university officials as a reference for future crisis’s revolving hate actions against Jews at EMU.

    • See Appendix H, p.14, for the organization crisis plan

  • An active presence on social media

    • I did not get access to the organization social media management platforms, but I did share all graphics with their social media manager. My graphics were used regularly on Facebook events, and Instagram stories and increased the presences on social media.

    • Completed successfully

  • Weekly newsletters (Israeli Fun Fact)

    • Sent out regularly 10 Israeli Fun Facts Newsletters and got very positive responses from members.

    • Please see Appendix A for all the newsletters

  • Plan Jewish pride and pro-Israeli events

    • Helped plan and execute seven events for Hillel this semester

    • IsrAID, Israeli Trivia (X2), coffee hour, movie night, Israeli presentation, Torah on Tap, and Hamantaschen Making.

    • The event planning and executing was the primary and hardest thing I did for Hillel this term because it was very time consuming but gratifying at the same time.


 

Evaluation:

Monitor social media platforms: I wanted to increase the presence on social media and by that increase the followers. Even though we used the graphics I made for the Facebook events, Hillel didn’t use it for feed posts on Instagram – only on stories. Since stories disappear after 24 hours, it only engages current members and not new ones. However, we did manage to increase the number of average people showing up to our event with an average of 15 (in comparison to 10), so there is some effect.

Monitor Anti Israeli events on EMU campus: I wanted Hillel to keep an eye out for anti-Israeli events, and, if a crisis effects, make sure that the university officials are handling the crisis appropriately. Besides the specific anti-Israeli verbal attack I experienced on the Israeli presentation, there weren’t major anti-Israeli/Semite events on campus. Also, the verbal onslaught of six students on my Israeli presentation was handled well with a report to relevant bodies. Also, the crisis plan of Hillel was distributed to university officials, so that they can refer to it when a crisis occurs.

Monitor joining of new participants: I wanted to increase a 2% showing to events, and we did. I hope Hillel will keep making sure that they monitor how many students join the organization every semester, to increase engagement.

Final thoughts:

                        For my Academic Service Learning project, I decided to take the role I have held in the student organization, as the Israeli chair in the last two years to come up with a plan for engagement and crisis plan. When a friend first introduced to Hillel, I only had one goal — to be included in the Jewish community of Eastern Michigan. Soon after establishing myself as an active member at Hillel events, my peers elected me to the E-Board. While on E-Board, I have had the opportunity to shape the vision of not only Hillel but the Jewish community on campus. Since I was born in Israel as a Jewish Israeli, I never had to "defend" my country to anyone before college. Additionally, I had never experienced anti-Semitism. However, soon after beginning my college career at Eastern Michigan, a highly diverse university with a large Muslim population, I realized students connect, in a stigmatizing way, most decisions I make to the fact that I am Israeli. Almost immediately after arriving at Eastern Michigan, I had consistent interactions with a large group of students who do not support Israel. Given this stigma towards Israel, I felt many students did not give me a fair chance to express myself. Almost daily, other students put me in a spot where I had to defend my Israeli identity and defend my country by giving my side as to not only what it means being Jewish in Israel, but also why I believe Israel must remain a Jewish state.

For this class, I realized I could use this ASL project as a platform to bring about change on campus; I wanted Jewish students to feel as welcome as any other student on campus. I accomplished this feat by organizing and hosting Jewish and Israeli events, which in turn helped the Jewish members in the organization feel more connected to Israel. Events such as Hamantaschen-making event, Israeli presentation, and Israeli Trivia night. Additionally, since this semester I have sent a weekly newsletter to my peers called - "Israeli Fun Fact."

Throughout my four years at EMU, many challenging events happened that truly hurt me as a Jewish student on this campus. For example, an anti-Israeli protest broke out by the "Wall of Free Speech" in Sep 2017, a UofM professor boycotted Israel publicly in Sep 2018, and 11 people were shot and killed at the Pittsburg shooting event on Oct 2018. Sometimes, the battle felt personal. Two examples include when an anti-Semitic message was sprayed on the Wall of Free Speech over a pro-Israel painting in Nov 2018, and when seven anti-Israel students attended my Israeli cultural lecture, only to verbally attack me in Feb 2019.

I took a proactive approach when defending the students’ Jewish and pro-Israel identities on campus, often by publicly responding to anti-Semitic events organized both on campus and around the United States. I wanted to establish a campaign that will make other Jewish students on campus feel more confident with their identity and keep school space for minorities.

As I complete this ASL project, I realize that this anti-Semitic battle is a difficult battle to fight. My goal with this ASL project has been to not only stay actively involved in the Jewish community but help Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus feel welcomed and heard. By helping provide this outlet to students, I have accomplished what students before me have not — a voice on the other side. The only way to bring about change and make Jewish students feel more welcomed within the university is to provide support and never give up. I am leaving the campus with the Jewish community in a far stronger state than when I first stepped foot on campus and a stronger condition than when I first established the ASL plan.


Comments


bottom of page