Two years ago at Hillel Institute, I came back with some ideas regarding Beach Hillel, one of which was to incorporate some Jewish content in each of our weekly Beach Hillel staff-and-interns meetings. While I don’t remember from whom I heard the idea, I do remember coming back from that conference with the idea that any Jewish organizational meeting should have some element of Jewish content. In consultation with Rachel, we decided to incorporate a morsel of Jewish learning into our meetings.
That fall, all of the Jewish content pieces were Talmudic excerpts pertaining to the sage, Hillel, whether statements of his or stories about him, so that our staff and interns would be knowledgeable about our organization’s namesake, so they could respond when asked about the name of Hillel.
Last year, instead of having staff and intern meetings, we simply had staff meetings, so while we began with Hillel the sage-related Jewish content pieces (we had new staff, so we could re-use the material), we then spun off into Jewish content pieces in which our staff was interested in exploring. It went really well and we had very involved discussions. However, it often went too well, with the discussions on the Jewish content taking up too much time for us to effectively deal with the actual business with which we needed to deal.
At this year’s Hillel Institute, I heard the Senior Jewish Educator at the Hillel at UC-Berkeley mentioning that their staff has weekly Jewish learning meetings. I realized that having a separate staff Jewish content learning session would solve the issue of our not having sufficient time to get to the business at-hand for our meetings. Also, it would serve not only as an opportunity for our staff to develop greater confidence in their Jewish knowledge and identity, but it would also serve as a way for us to model to our students that we, too, were engaged in Jewish learning. Furthermore, the content often connects with holidays, which enables our staff to be able to knowledgeably discuss what they are.
Every year is something new in this regard. I am hoping that as we hire new interns for the school year, we can also incorporate some of those morsels regarding Hillel, the sage, so that they are both aware of our organization’s namesake, as well as being Jewishly enriched.