Spotlight: Gail Schneiderman, Jewish Education Committee Chair
Hi! I am Gail Schneiderman. I am a rising junior majoring in graphic design and minoring in communications. For the past year and a half, I have held the position of Jewish Education Committee Chair on the Hillel Board. I love being part of the CU Jewish community and spending time at Hillel.
One of my favorite Hillel experiences was leading a fundraiser in honor of Tu B’Shevat - the Jewish New Year for the Trees. For a week this past February, I ran a Tu B’Shevat tree donation project through Illini Hillel to raise money to replant trees in Australia after the severe damage from the bush fires. To raise money, we posted signs around campus and on social media. We also tabled at Illini Hillel and the Student Union. In the end, we raised enough money to plant 365 trees. Another part of the fundraiser that was educating about the holiday. Whenever someone donated, we made sure to tell them about the holiday and how it connected to planting trees. I created educational bookmarks to hand out. These bookmarks explained that Tu B'Shevat is the Jewish birthday of all trees; it is celebrated on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, which is what its name translates to; and on this day, we recognize the importance of being environmentally conscious & appreciative. This experience was empowering. It was extremely special to celebrate the holiday by making a difference in the world.
As Jewish Education Chair, my primary role is to create and execute programs and initiatives that educate other students on Jewish holidays, culture, and themes. A big chunk of what I do is create and run Jewish holiday programming. For example, when Chanukah was over winter break in December 2019, I throw a Chanukah bash party complete with latkes, sufganiyot, dreidel, and dreidel painting. Another example is on the Sunday before Purim, I held a Purim event at bagel brunch. We put out supplies for students to pack Mishloah Manot - small gifts of food that are customarily sent to friends on Purim. For this event, I made small cards that had Purim facts on it including the Purim story, Purim themes, and the mitzvot of Purim. I have also utilized social media to educate about Jewish holidays. On Chanukah, we ran a social media raffle. To get a ticket in the raffle, you had to post a picture of yourself lighting candles. For Lag B’Omer, I collected answers to the questions “what lights your passion” or “ what is one word to describe you” from the Hillel community. I compiled the answers into a flame word cloud that was posted online. Another part of what I do is lead the Jewish Education Committee. Together we brainstorm, plan, and execute the programs and initiatives. Everything that I listed above, I could not have accomplished without the committee and my supervisor.
Are you involved in anything else on campus besides Hillel (clubs, greek life, etc)?
On campus, I am also involved in the Campus Honors Program where I am a committee member on their student council. On the student council, I help to plan events for honors students. I am also head designer on the literary magazine of the honors program. As head designer, I am responsible for the layout of the magazine. I am also a member of the club American Marketing Association.