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The Power of the Jewish Spreadsheet

Updated: Aug 27

By Jesse Steinman, Hillel at Emory '21


As an aspiring Jewish professional, I hoped this summer would provide me with invaluable experience into the intricate frameworks and institutional processes of building a stronger Jewish community. What was the best place to work? Hillels of Georgia: an organization that has shaped and impacted my collegiate career in numerous ways. Thanks to the support and graciousness of the Hillels of Georgia staff, I was positioned to intern this summer with the Development Team.


Entering the summer, I thought the Development wing of non-profit organizations was the mythical engine room. The component that looks to ensure the growth and progress for the organization. I envisioned my invitation to this secret society would give me insight that would forever shape my professional directory.


And, in a sense, it did. I learned how to wield a mystical force. A force of organization and growth, which bounds any long-term goal in concrete actionable plans. I learned the power of the Jewish spreadsheet.


Spreadsheets were as foreign to me as Bacon on a Saturday morning. A student of history and German studies, I have learned an array of analytical, critical thinking, and writing skills; however, I never learned how “to spreadsheet.”


Throughout the summer, my amazing mentors—Renee Harris and Merit Pinker—taught me how to use the spreadsheet to overcome challenges, identify problems, and accomplish goals. Spreadsheets were my summer—and I loved it. By sifting through and organizing heaps of data, I was able to identify strategies to overcome specific problems that will strengthen Hillels of Georgia’s future.


I am grateful to have not only learned this invaluable skill, but also given the resources, support, and independence to engage in real Jewish change. I identified potential donors to support the expansion of a new Hillel at a Georgian college. I organized our alumni data and worked with our campus directors to reimagine alumni engagement strategies. My favorite part of the summer, however, was identifying hundreds of supporters who significantly impacted our Hillel and then working with fellow students to run a Thank-a-Thon.


While this summer taught me that spreadsheets are a great tool, it is the Jewish spreadsheet that is powerful. Throughout all my work, I was driven and motivated by the potential Jewish impact of my work. Spreadsheets offered me a tangible way to engage in actionable Jewish community work. I am incredibly grateful to Elliot, Renee, Merit, and the entire Hillels of Georgia staff for equipping me with the opportunities, tools, and support to engage in real change. This was an impactful summer, and it is all thanks to the power of the Jewish spreadsheet.

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