Info From Hillel Conference Call

Notes from the Hurricane Katrina Conference Call, September 6, 2005

Avraham’s opening remarks:

“I am truly sorry that the situation necessitates this….We are not looking for a way to get involved just to get involved. We want to do what we can to make life better for those affected.”

Carol Smokler, Hillel’s Board of Directors; Chair, UJC Emergency Committee

“Hillel is in a unique position with alternative breaks to help with rebuilding areas of the Gulf Coast. This is an opportunity for us to educate students on giving through the Jewish community to help others.”

Paige Nathan, Executive Director, New Orleans Hillel

“The support is so comforting & helpful. We’re all safe and healthy and that’s the most important thing.” Major issues:

  • Students finding where to go to school (Tulane is closed for the semester)
  • Emotional repercussions (contact local Jewish Family Services for trauma counseling and support to make available to students)
  • Trying to identify students, where they are, what their needs are

Hillel’s Efforts:

Raising Funds: Hillel is encouraging college students around the world to raise money for hurricane relief. Hillel will combine all funds and provide it as a gift from the Jewish campus community to those in need. Funds may be donated online at www.hillel.org. Red Cross and other organizations are looking for bulk donations direct from stores/suppliers, noting that clothing drives, etc are not the most effective way to provide support.

Welcoming Students to Campus: Proactively contact your university administration to identify displaced college students and welcome them through creating a buddy system to help them adjust; offering support or shelter where necessary; clothing, etc. If you know students who have been affected by the disaster, send their names to Jeff Rubin, jerubin@hillel.org. It is important that we identify where students are.

Creating Local Support Groups: There is a need for local support groups in communities across North America to help Jewish and non-Jewish students, parents and alumni discuss their circumstances and to plan for the future. To find or create a support group in your community, contact Paige Nathan, paigenathan@hotmail.com.

Study in Israel: Hillel has worked with the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Israeli government and Israeli universities to enable any qualified student, Jewish or non-Jewish, to attend an Israeli university including tuition waiver and travel subsidy. For additional information contact Rachel Brown, 212-339-6903 or rachelbr@jazo.org.il

Volunteer Opportunities: Hillel’s is mobilizing college students to volunteer in affected areas by establishing relationships with on the ground partners to best determine potential needs as they arise. Hillel will create volunteer opportunities for students during winter and spring breaks. Students are encouraged to volunteer with refugees in Houston at present (Kenny Weiss, Executive Director at Houston Hillel has offered to house volunteers). For more information, contact Michelle Lackie, mlackie@hillel.org.

Locating the Displaced: Hillel is working with the United Jewish Communities to help locate members of the Jewish community displaced by the hurricane. Individuals should send their names to Adam Bronstone, adam@jewishnola.com.

Other comments:

  • There are 240,000 evacuees from New Orleans in Houston. Goodwill is out of furniture, WalMart ran out of towels .
  • The city is still looking for 5,000 volunteers/day.
  • Many cities are getting evacuees. Close to 300 universities have opened their doors to students from the area.
  • Hillel is working in consultation with the United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Federation of New Orleans

Hillel’s website, www.hillel.org, is being updated daily with information, stories and ideas from other campuses.


“I put this out there to you. Now is this time, if there ever was, to put words into actions. No action is too little. This really is an instance where every smile counts. Have hope, share it and work hard towards it becoming a reality.”

*Jill Goldstein, Bronfman Center's (@ NYU) volunteer delegation to Houston’s Astrodome

Michelle Lackie
Director, Weinberg
Tzedek Hillel
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
Charles and Lynn Schusterman International Center

Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Building

800 Eighth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-3724
Phone: 202.449.6595
Fax: 202.449.6495

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