W&L Hillel Student Board Retreat Hannah Falchuk ‘18

Before the school year started, the Hillel student executive board went on a retreat to plan the year's events and outreach and to kick-start a new cultural student organization. We spent the weekend before Orientation Week living together at a house hidden behind Lexington's steep hills and gravel roads, where cell service and technology distractions were nonexistent. Instead, we played badminton and roasted marshmallows in between planning sessions and speaker visits.

All of the members of the board - Maddi Boireau'16, Laura Wiseman'16, Caroline Birdrow'17, Batsheva Honig'17, Keith Denning'18, Hannah Falchuk'18, Jordan Goldstein'18, Shlomo Honig'18, Rebecca Orsak'18, Ron Perets'18, Stephen Reibach VMI'18, Rachel Reibach'18, and Jacob Rosen'18 - gathered with ideas for innovative outreach programs, new holiday celebrations, and improved cultural awareness on campus. Some of the ideas from the retreat that have already been put in place are the student-led Torah study that Maya Epelbaum and Batsheva Honig now lead each Friday before dinner and the Simchat Torah celebration that Ron Perets organized during October.

During the retreat we were able to hear from some speakers in administration. Brooke Hessney, Assistant Director of Admissions, spoke about the prospective student events that would be held this year and asked for our own opinions about how best to connect with students of Jewish faith both in their high schools and while they are visiting. Kelsey Goodwin, Assistant Director of Student Activities, also spoke to us about event planning and the resources available to Hillel and its new student organization.

The retreat allowed the executive board to collaborate and create new ideas for how to improve Hillel's efforts both on campus and in the community. The work that was done before the school year started has made the transition between holidays and events much smoother and has made it easier to focus on the holidays and gatherings themselves, rather than their preparations.