Hillel at the University of Washington Programs
In the words of a recent UW graduate "Hillel is the epicenter of young Jewish life in Seattle." Hillel at the University of Washington serves students at the University of Washington as well as recent graduates and young professionals in the Greater Seattle area. Our constituents are in a formative stage of their lives, a period that will often set the pattern of their adult lives.
We respond to the unique needs and interests of today's young Jews making Judaism relevant for them. Our programs create vibrant communities on campus, in our building and across the city, giving young people multiple ways and opportunities to connect and engage.
Jconnect Seattle is many things:
- Hip parties
- Torah Study
- Israel Activism
- Holiday Celebrations
- Exploring how to live a meaningful Jewish life
- Young adults working to end human trafficking and promoting healthcare reform
- Jconnect Seattle is a unique program that is designed to provide programs and community for Jewish young adults ages 21-32.
Many people in this demographic are new to the Seattle area, having moved here for jobs or graduate school. They often do not have strong connections to synagogues or other Jewish institutions and don't feel that those organizations meet their needs. Jconnect Seattle specifically works to provide these young people social networks, quality programs, and opportunities to explore and deepen their Jewish identity. Jconnect creates pluralistic, multi-faceted communities where young Jews from diverse backgrounds can participate in ways that are meaningful to them. These communities are highly flexible and dynamic, responding to the needs and interests of current participants. They provide young adults opportunities to explore and experience Judaism and find their place in the larger Jewish community and the world. For specific information about our current program calendar visit www.jconnectseattle.org.
Hillel UW's innovative Counseling Program provides young adults with confidential and affordable mental health services. This important program started in 2001 and today, we continue to be the only Hillel in the world offering on-site counseling services. The counseling center is an integral part of our overall program offerings. Our mental health services continue to be in high demand, and we are proud to offer these vital services for young Jews in our community.
We are extremely fortunate to have a clinical counselor as capable as Danica Bornstein. Danica is a wonderful addition to the Hillel UW staff. Not only does she make a profound difference in the lives of her clients, she also is a vital resource to a staff that has not been formally trained to deal with emotional and mental challenges. Her caseload includes both undergraduates and Jconnectors, and she sees a broad range of issues including: major depression and anxiety, life transitions, grief and loss, unemployment, relationship issues, past abuse and post traumatic stress disorder. This program is a joint partnership with Jewish Family Service of Greater Seattle.
Tzedek/Social Justice is a core component of the Hillel UW program. The goal of this important initiative is to dramatically increase engagement of the 18-32 year old Jewish population in compelling, innovative social justice opportunities to learn, share, build better community, and take action for positive change. Our social justice program areas are education, service, experience, advocacy and action. Through food and clothing drives, voter registration campaigns, shelter breakfasts, service learning opportunities, civic engagement and a host of volunteer projects, we strive to teach young people about service, advocacy and activism.
In addition, we offer service learning trips each year that take participants around the country and globe for hands-on direct service learning experiences. These important programs create a framework for engaging young Jews by connecting them to Judaism through Tzedek and making tikkun olam (repairing the world) a life-long practice.
Our Social Justice/Tzedek Initiative is a relevant and powerful way to make connections between Jewish values and the issues and activities important to the progressive Jewish population of Seattle. This comprehensive program is designed to engage those with varied interests, schedules, passions, and work styles and reaches a segment of the young adult population that might not otherwise seek out Hillel. The effort continues to successfully reach more young people each year and we anticipate continued expansion into the future.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Hillel UW and Jconnect Seattle are locally and nationally recognized for the high quality, innovative work that we are doing with young adults. Our campus is regularly asked by International Hillel to pilot new programming initiatives. Our staff is often asked to present at national conferences and are called upon nationally and locally for their guidance and expertise in reaching this unique age group.
We have partnered with several national organizations including Taglit Birthright Israel. They have recognized Hillel UW and Jconnect Seattle as one of the top programs providing opportunities for young adults to stay connected to the Jewish community after returning from Birthright trips to Israel.
, our social justice and service learning initiative, is recognized as a major force in connecting young adults to social justice work. This programming area is an excellent way to reach the unaffiliated young Jews in our community. Local and national organizations are now reaching out to us as a model of how to get participants involved and effectively working in the community. We have benefitted from a partnership with Repair the World, a national service organization, but in the coming year they are focusing funding priorities elsewhere. We are seeking support for this important program area. In addition, we have collaborated with American Jewish World Service, the Joint Distribution Committee, Call & Response, the Righteous Indignation Project and many more.
Hillel UW’s counseling office is located on the lower level of our building, away from the programming wing. There is a separate security entrance that leads clients directly from the parking lot to her office. The program was established to provide low-cost ongoing counseling to Jewish students, recent graduates and young adults ages 18-32. They face a wide range of issues including drug and alcohol abuse, relationship difficulties, depression, family problems and eating disorders. In one year, two different students approached both staff and donors to thank them for the opportunity to have counseling at Hillel. They both said that they would not 'be here' if it weren't for the existence of our counseling services. We provide low-cost counseling services for young adults that would not otherwise be able to afford them through a joint program with Jewish Family Services of Seattle.
For more information about funding opportunities for Jconnect, Tzedek UW, counseling services, other initiatives, or Hillel UW in general please contact Galit Ezekiel, Development Director, at 206-527-1997 or firstname.lastname@example.org.