Wash U. Hillel adds two staffers

By Eric Berger, Staff Writer

Hillel at Washington University has hired two staff members who will participate in national fellowship programs through Hillel International.

The local Hillel chapter was selected as one of 25 chapters to participate in the Springboard Fellowship program, which is sponsored by Hillel International. That organization provided a portion of the funding to hire Margaret Butler, who recently graduated from University of Oregon with a degree in political science. She will focus on social justice efforts as a fellow. As a student, she helped build a dialogue program among the Oregon Hillel Foundation, Muslim Student Association and the Arab Student Union.

“Both the students and the staff felt with [Butler’s] dynamic personality and commitment to tzedek and social justice, that she would be a great fit to really help us continue to enhance our advocacy and activism programming,” said Jacqueline Levey, executive director of Hillel at Washington University.

The Springboard fellow will receive training in social action and community organization methods and work to build partnerships with local and national organizations. The hope is that these actions will provide students with more opportunities to engage “in social justice issues through a Jewish lens,” according to a news release. 

The Hillel chapter also received funding for the fellow’s salary and benefits from Mosaic United and the Beacon, Clark-Fox Family, Shapira and Staenberg Family foundations. 

Levey hopes the new position will help her organization connect with Jewish students who are involved in other civic and social justice-minded organizations but may not be particularly involved in the Jewish community.

“Social justice is a core Jewish value, no matter our personal politics,” Butler wrote in an email. “My hope is that through WashU Hillel’s social justice efforts, not only will students find a greater sense of purpose and perspective, but also gain a stronger sense of community.”

Hillel also hired Leah Staffin as a program and engagement associate and as its new EZRA Fellow. That program offers young Hillel professionals with up to three years of training in Jewish education and career coaching. In addition to Washington U., the University of Missouri- Columbia was one of 14 other schools to be selected for the fellowship program.

Staffin previously worked with Repair the World, a Jewish volunteer service organization, and as a youth engagement director at a congregation in Massachusetts. She replaces Ashley Barrett, who recently started rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. 

Levey said Hillel students and staff were impressed with Staffin’s “experience and her enthusiasm for the position, and we’re really excited to have her.” 

“In addition to the usual programming and engagement role, Leah, like Ashley did, will come up with innovative learning programs,” she said. “It might be through Birthright follow-up … or through a weekly leadership meeting with the student executive board.”

Staffin stated in an email that she is “looking forward to joining the vibrant WashU Hillel community.” 

“I am excited to build upon existing programs and create new opportunities and communities according to the needs and interests of the students,” she said.

The EZRA Fellowship is supported by the Maimonides Fund.

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