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Illini Hillel Annual Report 2019


Annual Report 2019

Reflecting on the past year as the Co-Chairs of Illini Hillel, we are so proud of all that was accomplished together. For the 2018-2019 year, we engaged 1,437 students, 48% of the Jewish student body. We are in the top percentile of Hillels, across the country, in terms of engagement and outreach work. Our events this year were content-rich and well thought out, to engage a more diverse group of students in a large variety of programs. We engaged 377 students in high-impact experiences, which are proven to further Jewish interactions and future commitment to Jewish life. Some highlights included:


• Sandy’s Bagel Brunch which served 3,240 meals and Shabbat Dinners which served 3,990 meals and had a variety of themes, to engage students in topics that interest them.

• The addition of the Jewish Learning Fellowship, a 10-week experiential, conversational seminar for students looking to deepen their understanding of Judaism on their own terms.

• We hosted two Israel Weeks, with events ranging from Krav Magav, to working with an Israeli artist to spray paint a mural, to enjoying pita and falafel at Eat Your Way Through Israel.


Illini Hillel provided numerous travel opportunities. For the second year in a row, our Student Leadership Trip brought five pro-Israel activists together with 20 campus leaders representing the African American Cultural House, the Latino Cultural House, Resident Halls, Fraternities and Sororities, and other major student groups to explore Israel. The purpose of this trip was to expose student leaders to the reality on the ground in Israel and build a social network of students who  have personal experience with Israel. The trip is also expected to help to mitigate claims from the BDS movement about what is happening in Israel.


• This year we increased our Birthright Israel recruitment and as a result, we saw a record number of registrations during Spring semester, to send over 80 students on Birthright this summer.

• We funded and led 26 students to AIPAC’s Policy Conference.

• We hosted an overnight student leadership retreat with 25 students. The retreat helped equip our student leaders to best engage with the diverse students we represent and create programs to benefit and interest all the students we serve.  

• We took 18 students on our first Camping Shabbaton during the High Holidays.


Illini Hillel also reacted quickly when the tragedy in Pittsburgh took place. The staff made themselves readily available to give the students the support that they needed, as well as several outlets to discuss their feelings. The Cohen Center increased its security measures and touched base with local police authorities following the attack. During the weekend’s Sandy’s Bagel Brunch, Hillel offered students the opportunity to write condolence notes to the Pittsburgh Jewish community. Close to 50 students wrote notes and dozens more sat with staff members to talk about the difficult time. Illini Hillel also held a vigil on the quad, alongside Chabad and JET (Jewish Education Team). The vigil attracted several hundred people. Illini Hillel staff were quick to react to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Jewish students on campus.


We are very proud of the work that is being done and are looking forward to another successful year.

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Paul Lapping

Sammy Marks

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Thriving Jewish Life

Jewish Life

Click on each image to learn more about the different Jewish life programs offered throughout the semester such as our Purim Drag Show and our Interfaith Dinner in the Sukkah.

"JLF classes provided me with a space to discuss Jewish texts from a modern lens. Each class prompted thought provoking conversations, and an opportunity to widen my perspective from my peer"

Allison Perlman

JLF Participant
Class of 2019

Strong Connection to Israel


Click on each image to learn more about how the University of Illinois Jewish community stays connected to Israel through Birthright Israel trips and Israel Week on campus each semester.


"I was involved in Israel Week but my favorite event was probably Artists4Israel where we had artists come and spray paint a mural on the quad."

Lexi English

Class of 2021

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Plenty of Fun with Friends

Click on each image to learn more about some of the 400 programs that Illini Hillel this year. Staff and students teamed up for hot chocolate bars, mah jongg games, movie nights and more.

"LGBTJew was difficult to get started but incredibly rewarding and successful in terms of outreach and support."

Claire Katz-Mariani

Class of 2021

Community Building


Click on each image to learn more about the organizations and communities that Illini Hillel partners with in Champaign-Urbana, the University of Illinois, Chicago and beyond.