Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why You Should Be The New Me

Cat's out of the bag! My position is up for grabs at Hillel. It's been an incredible two years here but alas, it's time to move on. As bittersweet as it may be to leave, I am also unbelievably excited for the next person to have the wonderful privilege of working for UF Hillel. For everyone who is having a meltdown about graduating and job searching, I have one piece of advice (well, two pieces if you count "BREATHE!): Be the new me.

When I graduated Muhlenberg in 2010, I was qualified to do basically nothing. I was a Political Science major and Jewish Studies Minor. My liberal arts education was everything I wanted from College--but it gave me next to zero skills in terms of a phasing into a job, much unlike my Accounting friends. In a quick twist of fate, I found myself deviating away from my 'dream' job of non-profit event planning and closer to working for Hillel. One month and two days after I graduated, I moved my entire life to Gainesville and began my job as a Jewish Student Life Coordinator.

So why should you want to be the new me? I'm about to tell you.

1. You have the best Boss. No, this is not a paid endorsement and no, he did not make me write this. Working for Keith has been the best part of working for Hillel. As a 21 year old in my first job, I knew one of the most important things would be to have a strong mentor. He has taken the time to foster my strengths, help me fix my professional weaknesses and has truly invested in me as a part of his team. We watch TV in our staff meetings. He feeds us chocolate. He let's us come to work in shorts and flip flops. Need I say more?

2. It's not just a student's home away from home. Moving to a new city is challenging but the transition is a little bit easier when you have a support system. They see you at your worst, your most exhausted and at your best. They show up in solidarity when you have a personal tragedy. Your Hillel staff becomes your work family and Hillel your home away from home. There is great comfort in knowing you always have a place to go for the High Holidays or Passover. What we tell our students, that you always have a place to go at Hillel, truthfully applies to us as well.

3. You find your fit. When I first came into this job, I dabbled in Programming. I realized that Programming was a much better fit for JeffDude--let's be honest, he's fearless and so creative--and I much preferred Engagement. My point is, this job gives you so much room to grow. "Don't be afraid to fail," Keith would tell us. This position encourages you to push your comfort zones, think out of the box and always try something new. It allows you to hone in on your strengths and go as far as you can with them. Working for Hillel is the best Professional Development you can get because it teaches ownership and accountability, while also encouraging you to explore and expand your interests.

4. You get to relive college! Ok, ok. It's certainly not the most important but it's also a huge job perk. Saturday football games? College basketball? Tailgating? If you don't love this then....learn to. Living in Gainesville gives you the chance to relive all the best parts of College, or if you were me, experience when your undergraduate institution didn't have. Trust me when I tell you there is nothing like a beautiful Fall day and 95,000 people bleeding Orange and Blue.

This is not a 9 to 5 job. In fact, sometimes it's not a Monday to Friday job. But in my opinion, it's one of the best jobs. And it's why you should want to be the new me.

This blog post was written by Jessica, the Jewish Student Life Coordinator and biggest fan of UF Hillel. Follow her @Jess_Davis78 or email her at 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tzedek Tuesday

Time for another edition of Tzedek Tuesdays! Lots of awesome stuff going on this week so read on to hear about our upcoming events!

Film Festival

Tonight, the 2nd Annual Jewish Film Festival is screening Praying With Lior, an amazing story about a boy with Down’s syndrome who becomes a Bar Mitzvah. Come out to the Hippodrome at 7 for a free movie and to hear more about the awesomeness that is Tzedek :]


Get excited, Relay for Life is only ten days away!! Please help us reach our goal by donating here: and by coming out to our 80’s Purim Party this Thursday! Drinks, raffles, and hamentashen, and ‘80s music, what could be better?? All benefits will go towards our Relay team so join us at Hillel on 3/15 from 8:30-11:30! RSVP and more details on our event page right here

Bone Marrow Donor Drive at Dance Marathon

Remember that awesome drive we did this past October? Well we’re at it again! Join us from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM at Dance Marathon (March 31st) to help register bone marrow donors! We need approximately 60 volunteers and I would really like to have at least ten people from Hillel to help out so please sign up at this link  if you’re interested in volunteering. Everyone who comes gets an awesome t-shirt! Who doesn’t love free t-shirts?! There are two mandatory training sessions on  Wednesday, 3/21 7:30-9:00pm AND Wednesday, 3/28 7:30-9:00pm. E-mail me at if you’re interested or have any questions.

Think you can do my job?

Guess what my shnitzle-eating-dreidel-spinnning-hamentaschen-baking-kinderlachen?  We're hiring!  Think you can do my job?

Then apply to be our newest Engagement Associate!  Actually, that's not my job; but it it is mighty close.  I am the handsome Program Director that you see at all the events and holidays.  The Engagement Associate job is a little more specific in scope.  Here's a description of the job responsibilities: 

Jewish Engagement

1.  The Engagement Associate develops and supports UF Hillel engagement initiatives as
appropriate while also taking on an engagement portfolio to identify and build relationships with uninvolved and peripheral students.

2.  The Engagement Associate helps coordinate Leadership Training for emerging student leaders 

while developing strong relationships and working with the staff of campus offices and departments 

involved in student programming and student services.

3.  Participate and coordinate at least one large program a month targeted towards uninvolved/engagement 

students.  This could be in areas such as speakers, art programs, ASB trips, Holiday parties, etc.

4.  Coordinate and support student initiated programs, including working with and guiding our Peer 

Networking Interns (PNEI), and attending these programs.  Initiate additional programs, as needed, for 

targeted student groups (i.e. Freshman in the dorms, Greek life, etc.).

5.  Using the REACH database, track student contacts and Jewish Journeys as well as perform evaluations

on every program.

And there is other stuff like doing our weekly mailings and posting on our social networks (Twitter, FB, Pinterest, YouTube, Blog)


Candidates should have at least a B.A.  Candidates must have excellent interpersonal and group work skills and be highly organized with excellent communication skills. Candidates should have a strong Jewish identity and the ability to inspire students to continue to grow in their Jewish journey.  Candidates should be high energy, self-starters and be able to work well in a team.   

I know, I know, I know, you are probably thinking, "But Jeff this isn't a quarter of what you do? How do you get it all done? Where do you find the time?" I will tell you, this isn't about me, it's about you.  Also, a common misconception is that one has to be involved in Hillel to work at a Hillel.  Well that just is a myth.  Another myth is that this is Jewish Engagement:

Which yea I guess is one kind.  But we are talking about this kind:

Tabling is a HUGE part of the job!
Not actually at UF but still...

Meet great students!

Spend lots of time at involvement fairs

Also you need to be prepared to answer these 2 questions well:
1. Why do you think this Hillel and position is best suited for you?
2. Please reflect on a time when you built strong relationships where none previously existed.

You need to be a pro at building relationships, you need to be extroverted, you need to be good looking.

Just kidding about that last one, that's discrimination.  Shame on you if you laughed.  If you didn't laugh, shame on you for not thinking @Jeffdude is funny. 


Good luck!  
This post was written by the greatest and best looking Hillel Program Professional ever at any Hillel.  Follow him @jeffdude on the twitter. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

We're on Pinterest!

I really can't help but notice that almost every female I know is on Pinterest.  And almost every guy I know thinks it's lame but hangs out with their lady friends while they are on it.  Let me address this first.  Guys, it's OK to be on Pinterest.  Really.  Take it from me, I used to be a scholar in social media...or something like that.  
Is it the logo?  Is it too feminine? 

Fine. I get it.  Pretend that one never existed and try on this gender-neutral logo.

Better?  Good.  Now let's continue.

If you don't know what Pinterest is, I'll explain very quickly.  Then I'll share with you all how we at Hillel are using it, and I'll finish with my personal feelings on this idolatry of materialism social media website. 

What it is, yo? Wassssssup?
"Now if you have a message to convey, what better way for your audience to get your content instantly than by offering it to them visually and not textually? I mean, look at some of the most popular apps out there, they are all based on graphics and not text. Pinterest allows you to share your content, whether it is a nice table you saw in an online catalog, a pretty dress (yes, Pinterest is still somewhat dominated by the female demographic), or, wait for it… Your app’s logo!" Thanks,  for the sound bite
So you find things, you pin them to your themed boards, and they show up on your followers home pages.  It's cool, and the fastest any website has reached 10 million users, ever.  It's worth knowing about.  
Ok, we good? Any other questions just go to, you'll figure it out real quick.
How does UF Hillel use it?
We made a board called, "For the Jew in Yew".  And we've been posting pictures and stuff relevant to what is going on.  Yesterday we posted about Purim, today we posted pictures of Shabbat, Challah, a recipe, week we'll post about the film festival, after that about Passover.  
I see this as a way to not only spread our non-profit's reach but to also keep our values relevant and on our student's radar. 
Here's a link to the UF Hillel Pinterest: 
Jeff's 2 cents
I see the value for Hillel to use it.  I get why people like it.  But I don't like it. 
I don't care for a site that is dedicated to wants and dreams of material things. I don't want to waste my time lollygagging around the internet playing pretend in an imaginary world.  I honestly think that people make these boards and feel like in some way they own a piece of what they have pinned.  
Before you jump down below to the comments to poop on me, let me finish my post.  
If you are looking for recipes, this might be a good place.  An inspirational, but sappy, quote will likely be on here too.  Looking for ideas to decorate your place, ok that'll be here.  But don't get sucked in and end up with 50 boards that make you depressed about what you don't and will never have in this life.  I see so many people with boards titled "Someday...maybe" it makes me want to grab these girls and tell them, "You is smart!  You is kind!  You is special!" then give them the Scott Fried "I'M ENOUGH" bracelet. 
I think I'll start my own site.  Call it "" Here people will post pictures of the things they love, things that make them happy, and things they share with their friends. It will give people the chance to reevaluate who they are, where they are in this world, and how to appreciate that some more.  
Hillel will have a page there too.
This post was written by Jeff who says we but usually means I. Tell him off at @jeffdude on Twitter.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Howie Update!

Thank you everyone who signed the card! Howie loves it!!!

We've been getting lots of concerned phone calls and emails about Howie.  Thank you all so much for your support.  The feedback ranges from people who want to go and visit Howie, to the wonderful Mary Barrish who has baby sit for Howie's nephew, to people like Scott Fried who wrote to ask that his name be added to the card from New York City, to people who have no connection to him, but feel something and just ask for updates.  They feel they are part of this community that takes care of each other, and want to share that.  

Howie has made an incredible recovery so far.  He has greatly exceeded all expectations by his brilliant doctors.  The thing is, with a heart transplant, recovery takes months.  Howie's family has to temporarily relocate from Miami to Gainesville.  Normally they would stay in something like the Ronald McDonald House, but Howie is just a little too old to qualify his family staying there.  So the family has to find private housing and support themselves while Howie goes through physical therapy and recovery. 

Many have asked what they can do to help, and a group of students at the UF Hillel has created a solution. The students here have decided to start a charitable fund to help lower the costs for Howie's family.  They ask that you consider making a small donation to "The Howie Family Fund" to help his family through this tough time.  All donations can be online or on the phone by emailing or calling Blair Morse (of UF Hillel) at or 352-372-2900.  

I would like to recommend one thing.  Please consider making donations of $18 for "life" or Chai in Hebrew or for $32 for "Heart" or Lev in Hebrew.  ***Please note, make checks out to UF Hillel and write in the memo section "The Howie Fund"***

Thank you for your support,
The Students at the UF Hillel

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Break Safety Tips, from your pals Jeff & Scott

Listen, I know it's Spring Break now, and all you kids are on the beach, or cruising or in Mexico, or whatever.  Just don't end up like this.

I put together my list of Spring Break Safety Tips to keep you kids safe.

1. Use the Buddy System
This one is for guys and girls. 
Dudes, leave no man behind!  
Girls, this is good for when your out during the day and when things get wild at night.  But don't try pulling this one as an excuse.  Nobody like the girl who screams, "We came together and we leave together".  All your doing is shmeck-blocking.  Don't shmeck-block.

2. Drink lots of water, not just iced drinks
If you stay hydrated, you will stay happy.  It will increase your longevity throughout the week, help you process all the toxins you are putting in your body and help you recover faster!  Drink lots of water.

3. Wrap it up
WHAT, YOU WANT A MINI-VAN?! If I need to spell this one out for you...we have serious problems.  Also, think about having a designated condom carrier.  Don't be a dummy, wrap it up.

Then something awesome happened! While writing this Scott Fried called me, so I had him help me finish my list!!!
Scott Fried Tips with explanations by Jeff:
4. If you didn't tell your friends where you're going or didn't invite them, don't share!
You like eggs?  You like your face?  You like eggs on your face?! Then don't rat yourself out.  Play it smart.

5. Call the next day
It's the right thing to do.

6. Sun block
No less than SPF 15. And don't use that Hawaiian Tropic oil crap.

7. Don't post incriminating pictures
You like eggs?  You like your face?  You like eggs on your face?! Then don't rat yourself out.  Play it smart.   And these pictures are forever once you post them.  Maybe not on your hard drive, but on the server you uploaded to, that stays FOREVER!

8. No drunk posting
I promise you if I see a tweet or facebook post by one our students that says something like, "OMFG SO ISH-FACED RIGHT NOW!! SB2012 #WOOOO!" I will retweet it and share it and print it out and repost it and make an iMovie of it.  Why?  As incentive for you not to be a dummy. 

9. Know your limits/Scott says be mindful, put down the 3rd drink
Nobody likes a sloppy gator.

10. From Scott Fried, no drunk sex.  "Do not combine drinking and sex, it will end in a crisis email to me!" -Scott
Scott says do not mix the two!  This is where people make mistakes, and get into situations they wish they weren't in.  You can easily avoid it, don't mix these two. 

Be Safe!  See you next week!