Minnesota Hillel Receives Ezra Fellow

11167788_10153259325645792_7837705431109210586_nAfter 60 years at the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Hillel will be gaining another new member of their team – an Ezra fellow.

Shira Lavintman will be joining the Hillel team come August as a Jewish educator, her new role thanks to the funding from the Ezra Fellowship.

The fellowship, offered to Hillel chapters nationwide, gives each campus the opportunity to hire a full-time employee to engage students in Jewish life on a richer level.

The fellows, like Lavintman, spend three years as a part of the program training in Jewish education and receiving career coaching.

“[The fellowship] will allow me to implement what I learned in college at the University of Minnesota.” Lavintman said. “I’m stoked about that.”

She’s taking the leap as a result of growing up with a rich Jewish background, including attending Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, graduating from Talmud Torah, where she received a comprehensive Jewish education, and completing her degree this month with Jewish and Hebrew studies minors.

Hillel’s executive director, Benjie Kaplan, said he’s excited for Hillel to game a new member of their staff come fall.

“Hillel is putting together an amazing staff team for the coming school year,” he said. “I am so excited that the first hire is another native Minnesotan with an impressive set of skills.”

Though Lavintman was considered for several positions at Minnesota Hillel, she ultimately took the opportunity as a Jewish educator, her first choice.

“It’s something that excites me,” she said, adding that she’s interested in applying the Jewish learning she’s obtained thus far to her professional life.

As a student, Lavintman split her time between Chabad at the U of M and Minnesota Hillel, cooking for the Kosher Cooking Club and singing for the Chai Notes.

She said she’s excited to devote more time to Hillel, where she can best provide her experiences with youth work.

Lavintman regards her first “real-world” educator experience as a big task to take on, one she wouldn’t be able to do without her youth studies background, she said.

She said she’s excited to bring her experience to the students to guide them as they choose their own Jewish paths.

“It’s about what the students want their Jewish experience to be,” Lavintman said.

Though she knows the expectations are high as Hillel’s participation rates continue to grow, she’s looking to help the students continue to build on that foundation.

As a new Jewish professional, Lavintman is already feeling the transition between student and educator.

“I’m really grateful to be on the other end of things and to be working for Minnesota Hillel,” she said.

Kaplan, too, is ready to move forward with the next team of leaders and staff.

“Minnesota Hillel is extremely honored to be part of this cohort of Ezra Fellows, and we know that Shira will do great things to help move our Hillel towards excellence.”