ORLANDO, Fla. – North Carolina Hillel received three prestigious awards from Hillel International on Monday, December 12, more than any other organization in attendance at the Hillel International Global Assembly.
NC Hillel Executive Director Ari Gauss was one of eight recipients of the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award, the highest honor that Hillel bestows on its most outstanding, dedicated professionals.
Gauss has served as North Carolina Hillel’s Executive Director for eight years. Michelle Brownstein Horowitz, Associate Director - UNC Chapel Hill, applauded this recognition of Gauss’s hard work and dedication. She described him as “a Jewish educator in the truest sense of the word. Ari’s commitment to personal connections with students ensures that every student has a Jewish home on campus.”
NC Hillel also received the “Top 5 Hillel with Greatest Impact” and "Top 5 Hillel with Greatest Improvement in Breadth" awards, recognized for positively shaping students’ Jewish identities and for engaging significantly more students in comparison to its peers around the world. Awards were based on the data collected from the initial stage of Hillel International’s “Measuring Excellence” program impact evaluation effort. NC Hillel was the only Hillel to receive two Measuring Excellence awards.
NC Hillel joined 80 campus Hillel organizations in the Measuring Excellence program, which sets goals for engaging Jewish students in pursuit of Hillel International’s vision: that every Jewish student is inspired to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel.
NC Hillel’s Measuring Excellence awards were propelled by the recent findings from Hillel International’s nationwide survey of over 10,000 Jewish college students, which ranked UNC Hillel as the #1 most impactful Hillel in North America, and NC Hillel’s statewide network #4. The study found that among the many factors that contribute to Carolina students’ Jewish identities, 36% of their identity was attributed to involvement with Hillel, nearly triple the impact of the average Hillel. Across all NC Hillel respondents, 28% of their Jewish identity was attributed to involvement with Hillel.
NC Hillel seeks to engage North Carolina Jewish students by providing a range of meaningful Jewish experiences, including Birthright Israel trips, leadership development programs, service projects and Jewish learning. NC Hillel was honored for engaging 20% more students in 2015-16 than in 2014-15.
Awards were presented during the “Drive to Excellence” ceremony. Drive to Excellence awards recognize distinguished individual professionals who demonstrate a true passion and dedication for Jewish life on campus, as well as Hillels that demonstrate achievement in Hillel International’s Strategic Implementation Plan, The Drive to Excellence.
Last week marked the 3rd annual Hillel International Global Assembly. Each year at the Global Assembly, Hillel International convenes more than 850 professionals representing organizations dedicated to supporting Jewish life on campus to celebrate successes, learn from each other and plan for the future.
North Carolina Hillel’s mission is to provide North Carolina’s Jewish students with opportunities to strengthen their Jewish identities. We do this by creating community; inspiring social justice and intellectual and spiritual growth; and deepening student connections to the Jewish people and the world.