What You Should Know about Hillel and IACT

IACT is CJP’s Campus Initiative that empowers students who are interested in deepening their relationship with Judaism or Israel, or who have an interest in exploring Jewish cultural arts or participating in community service. We sat down with Shoshana Gibbor, an IACT coordinator at MIT and Wellesley College, to find out how students can become more involved in Jewish life.

What is a campus Hillel, and why should college students get involved?
A campus Hillel is a center for Jewish life and learning, at your home base – which for college students is their university. Hillels are primarily student-led. There’s a student board which has a vision and a mission, and the staff help the students fulfill their vision and their mission for enhancing fun, interactive and educational Jewish life on campus for Jewish students and non-Jewish students who are interested to learn more.

In 2007, CJP’s Campus Initiative (IACT) launched, and now serves 12 college campuses in New England and is expanding nationwide. What advice do you have for students who have never experienced IACT before?
For students that have never experienced IACT before, I would say it’s going to change their college experience, hands down. College is a time for exploration, personal growth and learning, and it’s also a place for fun, where students get to try new things. IACT helps facilitate that process in an individualized way. We really focus all of our energies on what the student wants, and we get to do that within a Hillel that cares about the bigger picture.

Any advice for prospective students?
Choosing a school that has a thriving Hillel – especially a Hillel with an IACT to handcraft a positive Jewish experience for every single student that walks through the door – is important because you never know what life will throw at you. It’s nice to know that there will always be a safety net of a Jewish community that will hold you up.

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