Campus Jewish community affirms commitment to DEI work
Elon Hillel, the university’s Jewish student organization, has created a new board leadership position, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Chair, to help the organization enhance its culture of inclusion and welcoming. The new board role will focus on building cross-campus connections and listening to student voices in order to build a more diverse and inclusive community.
Board co-presidents Zoe Kurtz and Lindsay Rosenzweig say the new role is significant. “As a non-denominational Jewish organization, we take pride in the diversity of traditions among our members,” they said. “It is our mission at Hillel to welcome and embrace these differences, and provide each member with a voice in our organization.”
Studies show the Jewish community is growing more diverse, within the United States and the world. An estimated 10 percent or more of North American Jews identify as LGBTQIA+. Between 7 and 15 percent of American Jews identify as Jews of color, and 20 percent or more of Jewish families include relatives of color. Half of Jewish adults are married to non-Jewish spouses. About 10 percent of U.S. Jews identify as Sephardi or Mizrahi, and that number is growing. Roughly 1 out of every 5 Americans has a disability. Nearly a quarter of American Jews consider themselves cultural or secular Jews.
“This position was created so that we can speak with students, rather than speaking for them,” explained Director of Jewish Life Betsy Polk. “We are excited about this step forward in enlivening our mission’s focus on embrace the dynamic diversity of Jewish traditions.”
By creating this new board position, Elon’s Hillel community affirms that equity and justice are among its core values, and that the student and professional leadership is committed to ensuring that the community embraces the dynamic diversity of Jewish traditions.
“I am thrilled and proud that our student leaders have taken the initiative to recognize and embrace the diversity within Elon’s Jewish community, and the greater Jewish world,” commented Assistant Director of Jewish Life Hillary Zaken. “We must continue to work to make our spaces more equitable and inclusive, and ensure that students of all Jewish backgrounds feel welcomed and embraced.”
Other expectations for the new position include bringing new ideas to the table and helping create the roadmap for ways that this role can expand and grow. Hillel’s DEI Chair will be the official champion of all DEI work, and will be responsible for collaborating with other student organizations to design innovative programming.
Kurtz and Rosenzweig hope that whoever steps into this new role will be dedicated to partnering with other campus organizations such as the CREDE, the Gender & LGBTQIA Center, Catholic Campus Ministry, and many more to help promote justice across campus. In their opinion, Hillel needs to work actively toward not only a more inclusive Jewish community, but a more inclusive campus environment.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the events that have been occurring in our country, including violence towards persons of color and the Asian/Pacific Islander community,” the student board co-presidents explain. “We know that we, as a society, need to do better. We stand with these communities as allies, but we also know that in order to be the best allies that we can be, we need to better educate ourselves and form relationships with these communities to follow their lead in taking action. At Hillel, we are committed to becoming better allies.”
Applications for this role are now open. For the detailed job description, or to apply, click HERE.