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Our Vision

Hillel the Patient became head of the Sanhedrin through his devotion to learning. We continue his tradition at Rennselaer Polytechnic every day in our classes. However, the education he valued is not only taught by our calculus teachers and finite element professors. A far more integral knowledge - that of ourselves, is what he valued. To be lenient takes strength, and we must be so with many things, he implicitly teaches in every opposition to Shammai who sat by him in the Sanhedrin.

"Why not change the world?" asks every poster around campus. So why won't we? Didn't Hillel himself ask before his journey to Jerusalem: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when? Thus we must see problems in our world and strive to fix them. Environmental, economics, social, industrial - to make a real positive change in the world.

What we envision and strive for every week in Hillel is a place where we all can work together to better ourselves. In the Jewish world today, there are many denominations - in my experience, the Reform have a better sense of community and inclusion, the Conservative are wonderful at singing together, and the minds of the Orthodox have laws passed down through the ages on their minds. Outside these narrow and misleading bounds, without the discussion of every type of person together, without inclusion, we cannot grow to our full potential.

At RPI and most schools, we train minds explicitly but not hearts. I hope to learn much from you all in the coming year, and I hope you learn much from each other.

-Nathan Pankowsky, Alumni '13

History

Into the Past...

The RPI-Sage Hillel is a chapter of the national Hillel Foundation, which has an interesting history. It grew from a small handful of students to become a home away from home for many Jewish students. Hillel is a center for student development and is provoking a Jewish renaissance..

In the Beginning...

Hillel was founded in 1923 by Rabbi Benjamin Frankel who served as a rabbinic intern at Temple Sinai in Champaign, Illinois. He became familiar with the Jewish students at the University of Illinois and saw them as a generation of young Jews struggling to come to terms with America and their Jewishness. He decided to start Hillel with the goal of conveying Jewish civilization to a new generation. Hillels opened at Wisconsin in 1924, at Ohio State in 1925, and at the University of Michigan in 1926. By 1935, the organization boasted 11 foundations. Hillel quickly grew from just a handful of students to a worldwide organization.


Home Away From Home

The organization has helped the Jewish community to thrive through many difficulties. It has helped children of immigrants find a place in the American Jewish community as well as nurture young scholars by providing Jewish education for those with little background. It has also helped Jewish students overcome open discrimination on their campuses. Many Jewish students have described Hillel as a home away from home, a place where they could share their fears and successes, where they could feel the comfort of a family while asserting their independence from it, a place where they could grow as individuals and as Jews.

A Jewish Renaissance

Hillels were being created that were not only religious and social centers, but were also centers of Jewish learning. In an era when Jewish studies were rarely offered in an academic setting, Hillel provided them. Hillel not only earned the respect of students, it earned the respect of academia at a time when Jews were sometimes accepted grudgingly. Hillel took pride in the fact that non-Jewish students attended these classes, fostering understanding and good relations with future American leaders of all faiths. By creating a valuable, thriving community on campus, and serving as a center for student leadership and development, Hillel helped provoke a "Jewish renaissance" and a nurturing home for Jewish engagement.

Membership

Are you the one we seek...

Membership is open to all members of the RPI and Russell Sage communities, regardless of religion or other demographic characteristics. Jewish students who are a part of either community are automatically considered members. Any student can withdraw their membership at anytime. Non-members of either community may also become members of Hillel with approval of the Hillel Executive Board.

Dues

Members do not have to pay any dues to be active.

General Membership Meetings

General body meetings will be at 5:30 every Sunday of the semester in room 3510 of the Student Union. All meetings are open to the entire membership and everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. However, meetings are usually more business oriented than normal events and we usually do not recommend meetings as a first event for interested students.

Officers

Daniel Ackermans
Daniel Ackermans '20
President
Daniel, a Sophomore Computer Science and Music major from Westfield, NJ, enjoys spending his time playing and composing music. Daniel is a member RPI's Orchestra, Symphonic band, Pep Band and Clarinet Choir. Daniel is a HaNegev region USY alumni and hopes to continue to learn from and lead the Jewish community as Hillel's President.
Sarah Weissman
Sarah Weissman '20
Secretary
Sarah is a Sophomore math major from Montana, where, not surprisingly, there are not many Jews. Even so, Sarah manages to keep Jewish tradition alive. This is her second year with RPI-Sage Hillel, and she plans to continue to be active throughout her years at RPI.
Sam Altshuler
Sam Altshuler '21
Religious and Cultural Vice President
Sam is a freshman Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology major from St. Paul, MN. He’s a member of RPI’s Men Ultimate Frisbee team, Trudge. Sam was an active member of United Synagogue Youth and hopes to continue his passion for Judaism education within RPI-Sage Hillel.
Ido Tamir
Ido Tamir '21
Treasurer
Ido is a freshman Computer Science and Mathematics dual major. He was born in Jerusalem, Israel. He’s a huge Boston sports fans and enjoys talking about the lessons we can learn from Judaism.
Noah Emerick '20
Programming Vice President
Matt Brier
Matt Brier PhD
Senior Officer
Matt has been a proud member of Hillel for many years. Even after obtaining his undergrad degree he is still supporting Hillel and its efforts. Matt has been a major benefactor for the club, especially concerning obtaining provisions for the club as well as planning numberous events for the club.
Jonathan Holmes
Jonathan Holmes PhD
Senior Officer
Jonathan Holmes, great-great-nephew of the slightly more famous Sherlock, is a second year PhD student in mathematics from Idaho, widely known as the heart of the Wild West, where he did (at some point) shoot guns and ride horses, but not at the same time. He graduated with a B.A. in mathematics from the University of Cambridge, which gives him the right to be snobbish about the local cheese, tea, and chocolate. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he enjoys mathematics and cooking. He ought to be doing fencing and badminton as well, but currently spends too much of his time working and looking for kosher cheese. He has been active in Hillel since Fall 2011, is trying to learn Hebrew, and would love to cook for even more people every week at Shabbat dinner.
Adam Rabinowitz
Adam Rabinowitz '20
Financial Advisor
Adam is a Sophomore Computer Science and Mathematics dual major from Newton, MA. Outside of Hillel, Adam is the President of RPI’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success, the Vice President of RPI’s Computer Science Club, and a chair on RPI’s Judicial Board. Adam loves Jazz, Rock and current Pop Music, watching movies, and hanging with his friends.
Sam Weitzen
Sam Weitzen '20
Culinary Director
Sam is a second year Biomedical Microbiology BS student at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He is originally from Chelmsford Massachusetts. Outside of Hillel, he is involved in his college’s senate, student conduct board, games club, and the Delmar-Bethlehem EMS squad. In his free time he enjoys hiking, skiing, and traveling.