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  • Hillels of Georgia

Senior Spotlight: Celebrating the Class of 2020

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

Molly Auerbach

Hillel at Emory Class of 2020

"Hillel quickly became my home away from home and my favorite place on campus shortly after arriving at Emory. College was the first time Judaism wasn’t necessarily handed to me, and where it was more of my choice of how much I wanted to be involved. Hillel gave me a place to express my Judaism and be around people who enjoy being Jewish just as much as me. I loved Hillel so much right off the bat that I quickly became involved in the first-year council and then joined the Executive Board the following year. I haven’t looked back a day since becoming involved, so much so that I am now the Executive Board President. I absolutely love being able to be the Jewish leader I have always wanted to be and give that home away from home to many new (and not-so-new) students at Emory. Hillel introduced me to my best friends in college and gave me comfort in the hard times that college can bring. I would wholeheartedly say Hillel made my college experience in more ways than one, and I will forever be grateful for that.

Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic caused my senior year to suddenly be cut short. Many events that I had been counting down the days had to be cancelled, including Dooley’s Bat Mitzvah (a Hillel event that was supposed to be taking place in late March), senior Shabbat, and most importantly, graduation. While I am devastated to not have the traditional commencement ceremony in May like every graduating class gets to have, the thing I was most upset about was not being able to finish off the year as Hillel president with all of my best friends there, spending countless nights at various Hillel events. I have been participating in many of Hillel’s virtual events, but nothing beats being together in person. Fortunately, my plans for after graduation were not affected, and because I loved Hillel THAT much, I decided to apply for the Hillel Springboard Fellowship. I am so excited to continue my love for Hillel work at UCLA Hillel next year.

To Hillel, thank you thank you thank you. I would not be the person I am today without my involvement in Emory Hillel, and once again, I am eternally grateful."


Julia Bartol

Hillel at Emory Class of 2020

"I can confidently say that my college experience would not have been as special without Emory Hillel. Through Hillel, I met my best friends of college and I know I will have these friends forever. Before Coronavirus hit, I spent at least half of each week at the Hillel building whether it was Tasty Tuesday, JLF, Shabbat, or just as a quiet study spot.

The transition to living at home was tough and it definitely threw a wrench into my graduation, summer, and beyond plans, but I am so grateful for the Hillel community that has stayed so active! I have attended a Torah Tuesday, Senior Happy Hour, cookie bake, and even wrote my first Shabbat Dvar Torah to say over Facebook Live! I hope that future Jewish Emory students continue to find a home at Emory Hillel because it has been like a second home to me."


Elya Courtney

Hillel at UGA Class of 2020

"Although my senior year at UGA was cut short, my connection with Hillel at UGA wasn’t. Over the last four years, heading over to the Hillel House every Shabbat to cook became a ritual, time set aside to unwind and reconnect. High holidays, Shabbat dinners, JLF, and other engagement programs all brought me to the Hillel House, but the friends and community there are what truly enriched my life and made me stay. I gained so much from Hillel, not just in a community but in education. I now have a much firmer grasp of just how diverse the Jewish community is, but also a deep understanding of how we are bound together regardless of superficial differences.

Even though my graduation is delayed, and I can’t say goodbye to the other seniors that will not be returning for graduate school, I feel blessed to have been able to stay connected via Zoom to the Hillel Staff and our community here. I am thankful to be returning to Athens next year to complete my Master’s in Public Health, so this isn’t goodbye, but it is a start for something new. I think the whole world will see things a little bit differently and have a new normal.

Hillel at UGA will continue to be a big part of my life, and a haven as returning students navigate this new normal. I am deeply grateful to the students I have met through Hillel over the years, and the Hillel Staff have become mentors and friends. Thank you all for embracing me from the moment I walked in. I hope future students will take the plunge and feel as welcomed as I did!"


Lucy Kates

Hillel at Georgia Tech Class of 2020

"Hillel has impacted my college experience by providing a Jewish community where I have gotten the opportunity to meet great people and engage in discussions that ask ~life’s questions~. One of my favorite parts is that the Hillel has events and programs where I get to learn, but in a really fun and informal way. Also, being part of the Hillel has been the first time where I actively participated in Jewish activities without my parents’ influence. My great experiences with the Hillel these past couple years have made me realize that I really value having a Jewish community in my life, and once I graduate, I am going to actively find try and find a synagogue to join!"


David Kulp

Hillel at Emory Class of 2020

"Hillel has been an impactful force over the last four years of my college experience. I vividly remember my first Shabbat on campus. Having grown up with an appreciation for Jewish community and observing Shabbat, it seemed natural to attend move-in Shabbat. So many upperclassmen welcomed me as I arrived with my family; a few even hosted an oneg late into the night that Friday evening. Instantly, I knew I had found one of the many communities I held dear during my time on campus. Four years later, I reflect on how I’ve grown in leadership through Hillel. Starting off at Emory was simply the beginning. Now, in my work with Hillel International, it’s beyond fulfilling to know the impact this organization has on not only me and my peers at Emory, but thousands of students around the globe. I’m grateful and fortunate to have been part of this incredibly global community, and to have contributed to propelling it forward long after I graduate from Emory. I’m thankful for the community Emory Hillel has cultivated and for launching me into the Jewish nonprofit world.

In search of hope amidst the pandemic, there are certainly some silver linings. The pandemic has forced communities to come together online. And while not nearly as personal as in-person Jewish communities, it has allowed me to reconnect with old friends and family members. I’m immensely grateful for Hillel@Home. The opportunity to connect with students from near and far, at Emory and elsewhere, has brought students together from across the globe."


Nicole Nooriel

Hillel at GSU Class of 2020

"Beginning university, I was met with high anxiety and stress. I was experiencing shock as I had just come Forma School with a total of 100 students, to a school with 30,000 students, while simultaneously began looking into pre-professional programs and possible career paths. However, it was about a week into my first semester of freshman year that I discovered Hillel, and all the events it offered to students on campus. Walking into my first Hillel event I was met with some familiar faces, and warm welcoming smiles. Not only did they help ease my tension, but various students offered me a range of advice and help me better adjust. As the years went on, I became more and more active within my Hillel, taking on a larger role as a member of the student board. Looking back, I am able to see the Hillel was able to offer me lifetime friends, experience in leadership, and a Jewish life on campus that would allow me to be comfortable in an unfamiliar environment.

Although I was unable to complete my senior year the way I had always imagined, I was quickly reassured Hillel is here for me during these difficult times. My campus director would regularly check in with myself and fellow board members, offering to help in any way during this difficult time. I was invited to various Zoom events, giving me the small boost I would need to trek on during midterms and finals. Whether it was Yoga, Torah Tuesday, or a small pick me up such a picking up a bagel curbside. These small acts went a long way for students, especially me, reminding me that Hillel is always an organization I can rely on."


Max Shapiro

Hillel at KSU Class of 2020

“The best advice I can give to any student is to be as involved as you possibly can. The skills, relationships, and memories that I gained throughout my college career would not have existed absent my involvement in Hillel. Graduating in such a weird time is difficult for a lot of different reasons. The job market is slowly but surely crashing as so many graduates are fighting for the few positions that are available. The support I have received from my Hillel family, including students, staff and alumni has been astounding. 2020 might have had a rough start but I feel with Hillel behind me, I can accomplish anything. I want to tell all of my fellow Jewish Owls that I will miss you dearly and don’t let all of the hard work that myself, the staff and other Jewish students put in to make this great organization go to waste; it’s your turn to take Hillel to that next level, whatever it might be.

Hillel has been nothing but supportive, educational and enjoyable for the entire five years of my college career. The skills that I have gained from being a part of such a wonderful organization will continue to help me reach my goals for years to come. I have met some of the best people that I might ever meet and am lucky enough to call them friends. Hillel has provided me with the networking and the career development that is necessary to be successful. I cannot be more grateful for the experiences I have been able to have and am looking forward to all of the amazing things that our Hillel family alumni, students and staff will do over the coming years."


Sophie Rosen

Hillel at UGA Class of 2020

"Hillel has been one of the biggest influences of my involvement in Jewish life at the University of Georgia. I have been able to build a Jewish community away from home filled with comfort and pride for my religion and traditions. The students and staff I have bet have become a huge support system in Athens and constantly remind me of how special and strong we are together. I love everyone at Hillel and could not thank them enough for the love and support I’ve received throughout the last four years. Hillel at UGA will always be a second home to me."

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