Hillel’s incoming Executive Director Rabbi Yoni Kaiser-Blueth hopes to build a more cohesive Jewish community at GW, he told The Hatchet before Colonial Inauguration.
Kaiser-Blueth – who will replace Robert Fishman as the director of Hillel in July – said engaging with the large Jewish student population at GW will be paramount to his success. According to Hillel’s website, GW has 2,800 Jewish undergraduate and 1,500 Jewish graduate students.
“One of the biggest elements of my approach is going to be engagement – really forging relationships with the students that have been very involved and connected with Hillel,” Kaiser-Blueth said.
Part of engagement, Kaiser-Blueth said, will be interacting with students on a day-to-day basis.
“One of the key things when I’m around the office is to try to be out and about,” Kaiser-Blueth said. “There’s only so much you can do when you’re behind the office and behind a desk.”
Kaiser-Blueth is currently the associate director and campus rabbi at the University of Florida’s Hillel and has previous experience at New York University. He said those two positions will help shape his time at GW.
“We’ve done some really exciting things at the University of Florida,” Kaiser-Blueth said, noting that the UF Hillel held a Jewish-Muslim spring break trip for the first time this year. “What I’m really excited [for] is to have brainstorming conversations to see how Hillel can continue to be a serious partner on GW’s campus.”
Kaiser-Blueth will also use Hillel’s “legacy” – the chapter was started in the 1930s – to reach out to the University as a whole.
“I think we have an active and exciting opportunity to continue to build on a legacy of partnerships with the University,” Kaiser-Blueth said. “Whether that means leadership and resume-building opportunities, bringing in speakers, or doing things in the dormitories.”
For outgoing Fishman, Rabbi Kaiser-Blueth was a clear choice to fill his position.
“Yoni brings vision, experience and energy to our Hillel,” Fishman said in an e-mail. “I know that Yoni believes in building on the quality programs that have been part of Hillel during my tenure as well as his bringing his unique experience and vision for the future,”
After six years of working with the Hillel, Fishman said his departure was bittersweet.
“There is so much that I treasure that it would take a book to write down all the memories,” Fishman said. “I have had the opportunity to meet and mentor so many remarkable students, and work with a wonderful university and administration.”
This article appeared in the June 14, 2010 issue of the Hatchet.