The night before I left for this adventure known as college, I visited my grandparents in Chicago. While saying goodbye to my grandpa, he gave me some interesting parting words. It wasn't to have fun, study hard, or even find a nice Jewish girl. He simply told me to, "get involved with Hillel." So following his advice, I started coming to Hillel for free cookies, a free freshman dinner, a free Shabbat meal and free bagels. Yes, I purposely was trying to emphasize the word 'free' in the last sentence. Free food (free anything for that matter) is great; but if I wanted to, I could live off free food that is offered all over this campus. So why did I keep coming back? At one of the first events I came to, I had the lucky fortune of meeting Hillel's last president, Robbie Schnitzer. We started talking, and talking, and talking (I think you get the point) and not even 2 years later I would call Robbie one of my better friends.
If I wanted to describe the environment at Hillel in one word, I would choose comfort. This comfort that I had from my conversation with Robbie only grew as I kept coming back, meeting the staff and other students, and making new friends. So this is why I wanted to get involved with engagement in the first place, to make sure no one missed out on this wonderful experience I was having. And the cool thing that I've learned, especially from my own experience, is that it only takes one of us. One person to introduce themselves and have a conversation with the student sitting alone at Shabbat, the guy doing homework by himself, the girl who looks confused once walking into the building. It's really easy to do (it's a lot easier than the homework I should be doing right now). You may even meet someone who could develop into a lifelong friend. Basically, my point is that Hillel can be more than free food. Most people seem to forget that the friendships are free too.
VP of Engagement