Getting Israeli Kids Back to School
Connecting Students to Judaism, One Shabbat at a Time
May 1, 2023
Growing up, Eva Shterengarts was proud to identify as culturally Jewish.
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But, with virtually no Jewish peers in her hometown, she was lacking a sense of community and belonging. That all changed her freshman year at Pitt when she attended her first Shabbat dinner at the Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh (Hillel JUC). "Coming into the building, getting to meet all these new faces, I gained a deeper understanding of what being Jewish is," says Eva.
At the Jewish Federation, we believe in helping young people connect with Jewish life. That's why we help organizations such as Hillel JUC offer services that make 2,200 Pittsburgh students, including Eva, "feel really proud to be Jewish."
Over time, Eva became more engaged with different organizations under Hillel. She was comforted that Hillel JUC was there for her as a Jewish student, describing the organization as her "home base." Thanks to a welcoming and supportive community, Eva says Judaism is an important aspect of who she is now, and will remain important to her post-graduation.
Thanks to Federation, Hillel was able to expand its programming and adapt during the pandemic, distributing 3,770 "Shabbat2Go" and holiday meals. Since then, Hillel JUC has taken the lessons learned during COVID and applied them to new ideas, such as the new digital platform they launched in August 2022 called “Hillel Hub.” The website, designed by Hillel International and OneTable, enables students to create a profile and then host or join a Jewish event, dinner or gathering near them. Eva is so grateful, acknowledging that, "our programming would be on a lot smaller [of] a scale without the support of the Jewish Federation."
"With donors and supporters," Eva continued, "we're able to take small ideas and blow them up onto a larger scale and also invite more students as a result."
What was the outcome of these "small ideas," you might ask? A welcome-back-to-school Havdalah kit, a Passover program that showed students how to prepare Matzah Brei, “coffee cards” to encourage visits, Chanukah socks as a winter gift, and so much more.
Federation was there for students before Eva.
Federation was there for Eva.
And Federation will be there for future groups of students as well.
Thanks to your support!