2017-06-07 / Voice at the Shore

Reflections of an outgoing Hillel president

President, Hillel at Stockton University

RACHEL KERN RACHEL KERN As I start to transition out of my position as President of Hillel, I look back not only over the past four years of my involvement in Stockton University’s Hillel but also on my experience as a Jewish woman.

When I decided to do my undergraduate studies at Stockton, I had no idea that Hillel and Interfaith leadership would become a central focus of my life. I grew up in Gibbsboro, NJ, a town with only a handful of Jewish people that borders Voorhees and Cherry Hill, both towns with large Jewish populations. I received much of my Jewish education from Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, which gave me opportunities to learn about my religious identity, explore Israel, and make connections with other congregants and Jewish leaders that have meant much to me over the years.

Still, when I first arrived at Stockton, I couldn’t decide what club(s) to join. I went to Stockton’s biannual Get Involved Fair (where students can find out about all the different clubs on campus) feeling lost and unenlightened. As I walked around grabbing freebies and information from each club’s table, I eventually came upon the table for Stockton Hillel, the organization that has given me so many incredible opportunities and experiences. These opportunities ultimately changed my career plans and my future.

Over the next three years I became a student leader at the university. I have been on several executive boards, won numerous awards, served the local community, and changed my career interests hoping to one day be an interfaith leader. This past year I served as president to the Campus Religious Council and Stockton Hillel while also being a member of other on- and off-campus clubs, organizations, and honor societies. Of all these involvements, my role as a Jewish leader on campus had to be the most rewarding part. I have had the pleasure of creating professional and personal connections with professors such as Yitzhak Sharon, Gail Rosenthal, Marcia Fielder, Sharon Musher and many more who have influenced my future as a Jewish woman and interfaith leader. I have been asked to participate in several Jewish events on- and off-campus; most recently the Yom HaShoah service at Temple Beth El in Margate.

I’m sad to step down as president of Hillel but I know that there are only good things to come for this organization at Stockton University. As for my personal journey, I hope to continue incorporating my Jewish identity into my aspiring interfaith career. It’s funny to think that four years ago I was leaving home to come to Stockton. Now, it feels as though I’m leaving home all over again. Thankfully, I know it will still always be home. s

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