Bryant University’s commitment to being a diverse and welcoming community received a significant boost with a $50,000 grant to Bryant Hillel from the Sokol Foundation. The gift is supporting a number of new initiatives designed to increase the visibility and impact of Jewish life and values at Bryant. These include a part-time Hillel Engagement Associate, leadership training for students, speaking and arts programs, and events for Bryant Hillel alumni.
The Sokol Foundation, which is managed by Corey Levine ’80, was established by Elsie Sokol prior to her death in February 2018. Starting as a bookkeeper in 1944, she forged a distinguished career in banking, retiring as Chief Executive Officer from Central Jersey Bancorp. She was the first woman to hold top executive positions in the industry in Monmouth County, NJ.
“Whatever students are looking for – social connections, information about Jewish life and culture, advocacy or education related to Israel, or guidance with their personal religious journey – Hillel is here to meet those needs.”
Hillel International is the world’s largest Jewish student organization, with campus chapters at more than 550 colleges and universities. Bryant Hillel was established in 1948 and today serves as a “home” for Jewish students on campus, according to Rabbi Steven Jablow, the Jewish Chaplain and University Lecturer who serves as Hillel’s Director. “Whatever students are looking for – social connections, information about Jewish life and culture, advocacy or education related to Israel, or guidance with their personal religious journey – Hillel is here to meet those needs.”
Under Rabbi Jablow’s direction, Bryant Hillel has expanded its offerings and attracted broad support for and participation in its innovative and inclusive programming. It is a key element of a multi-prong approach to serve Bryant’s Jewish students that also includes new courses in Jewish history and culture, developing international exchange opportunities in Israel, and the availability of a full-time campus rabbi for personal and religious counsel.
Rabbi Jablow believes Bryant Hillel benefits both Jewish and non-Jewish students. “A vibrant Jewish community on campus benefits the community as a whole in so many ways,” he explains. “I firmly believe that Jewish values fit the overall goal of the Bryant commitment to character. When Hillel represents Jewish values on a campus, it demonstrates the good people can do with the abilities, responsibilities, and resources they acquire in life.”
Gal Benarush ’18, who served as co-president of Bryant Hillel, agrees. “Hillel isn’t just an organization; it’s a community that brings people together. Hillel definitely helped me build my character. I’ve learned more about myself and how I’ve been raised. I really think more deeply about that and how I can grow as a person more and more every day.”
To support Bryant’s Hillel community and help students build character throughout their college educations, please make a gift today.