Hillel Student Board's NYC Visit Natania Greenspan '16 & Victoria Cervantes '14
Before the school year started, our Hillel Director, Brett Schwartz, led a three- day retreat in New York City for a group of students on the Hillel Board. Having never been on this Hillel Retreat before, or any form of retreat for that matter, I had no idea what to expect except for a few trust exercises and some bonding activities.
While there was an intimidating trust building exercise involving mousetraps, there were many more activities that not only strengthened the Hillel Board, but also provided insight on how to become more productive. This retreat not only brought the whole board together, but allowed us to learn realistic ways to achieve and set goals that will be beneficial to the future of our Hillel at Washington and Lee. We did a lot of event planning, developed our vision, and talked a lot about hospitality.
Being from New York, I went into the retreat thinking that we were going to go through standard tourist protocol, like running around Times Square and visiting the Bethesda Fountain. Though the retreat did expose everyone to the hustle and bustle of the fast-paced New York lifestyle, we were also fortunate enough to experience Jewish culture in the city on a more intimate level. We were given tours at Congregation Shaare Zedek and Young Israel, both located on the Upper West Side. What I found to be even more meaningful was visiting the Tenement Museum and walking through a building where many immigrants lived and operated their own private businesses.
The retreat was not only a vital way to develop our board, but it helped to enhance the overall Hillel program.
The Washington and Lee Hillel board retreat to New York City was a great experience because not only did I get to see one of America's greatest cities, but I was able to do so with a really spectacular group of people. Those benefits were also a by-product of the purpose of our trip to New York, which was to have 2013- 2014 board member bonding and to learn together. I had a wonderful time finding out more about my fellow board members and what Hillel has meant to their college experiences.
As the Inter-Faith officer, I am not Jewish. To be accepted as another valuable member of the board made me feel great. It also reminded me of how much I enjoy this community, which is why I continue to come to Hillel after the first few times when I was just coming with friends.
During our time in New York the board visited the Tenament Museum on the Lower East side. The museum, which is a conserved tenement building, showed what life was like at the turn of the 20th century when many Jewish family members would have taken jobs in the garment industry.
One evening we went to Katz' Delicatessen for a huge dinner of latkes, matzo ball soup, corned beef sandwiches, and lots of pickles. My favorite part of the trip was the scavenger hunt in Times Square in which we split into groups and searched for the JVC globe, I ❤ NY merchandise, a police officer, a tourist family from another country, and a street performer, among many other things.
Overall the trip was a huge success and I am really glad that I was able to participate!