|Eric Fingerhut addressing Hillel staff at Hillel Institute 2013|
With the summer Hillel Institute going on this week, I realized I have not yet shared my thoughts on last year's Hillel Institute (no time like the present!). At the time, I had not known that it would be the last full Hillel Institute with all staff present (and which I will miss), but I enjoyed it, nevertheless, with it being my fourth consecutive such conference in the summer with fellow Hillel staff.
To begin, I was very glad that those who put last year's conference together decided to rethink how Hillel Institute runs as opposed to the prior three years. I am thinking primarily of getting rid of the Track Sessions, which were the focus of the conference in which we were with our staffs with a few other Hillels and going through some thinking about our Hillels and moving forward for the year to come. Not only do we not need to do it there, but it was, largely, a waste of time and frustrating and we could be gaining tangible elements to bring back with us and by which to be enriched.
They did so with giving us options, which was splendid! There were two majors which had three sessions and a minor which had two parts.
The first major session I attended was on Jewish Professional Development, which was with a bunch of rabbis, so it wasn't the typical group. In the first two sessions, the discussion leaders "lifted up the hood" on the curriculum so we could go through it, which was interesting to see it from that perspective, which is also helpful in seeing how they had put together a curriculum for new professionals to consider their Jewish identities.
|Rabbi Daniel Smokler leading a lunch and learn session|
There was an option of a lunch and learn session - I chose to go listen to the one in which Rabbi Smokler was speaking and it was a great discussion.
The second major I attended was on fundraising ("development"). I was hoping it would be about making asks, conversing with donors - skill sets for raising money. Well, apparently, that had been in the first time slot (while I was in the Jewish Professional Development session); however, mine was for development professionals about thinking about time spent on development and coming up with a development plan etc. so I left in the middle of the second session to go make better use of my time and schmooze.
There were also a couple other sessions with just rabbis, however, they mixed in some rabbinical students and non-rabbi Jewish educators, so it did not have the same flavor as being with just rabbis, which was not as powerful as in previous years in which it was just rabbis.
After having gone to City Museum for three straight years as a night out, it was very good for us to not return. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy City Museum and it's great to go once or twice, but four times would have been too much. Instead, we went to Dave and Buster's, which was great, especially since they had an open bar :)
|Rabbi Julie Roth & Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman of Princeton & Berkeley Hillels|
- As always, Hillel Institute is a great opportunity to meet really great people as well as re-connecting with folks from my past.
- I was disappointed about the hours in the day - would've really enjoyed spending some more time in deep conversation with certain people. However I did enjoy those that I did.
- I was glad that colleagues were interested and willing to read the articles/essays on rabbinic literature on which I've been working in my free time. I was really appreciative of one colleague who spent some significant time with me going over my pieces (it was also flattering that he told me he enjoyed them).
- I got to exercise for three straight days while there (I ellipticalled Monday through Wednesday).
- Hanging out with fellow rabbis from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah was nice, and much appreciation to the school for having the vision to sponsor beers for us to hang out together.
- After having one or both of our children with us for the first three years, it was nice to finally have no children with us and not worry about babysitting and being back in the room to be with a sleeping child (or two). It was incredibly liberating!
- The food was okay - I wonder if I, perhaps, got my expectations up from the previous year.
- The weather was so good. After the first year of over 100-degree temperatures, last year's weather was pleasant :)
- Unfortunately, there was not much twitter action :( I am not sure why there was a drop off from last year. At least there was some action during Eric Fingerhut's plenary speech.
- The awards presentations were really great, as had been in the previous three years.