Hundreds turned out to celebrate the accomplishments of Rutgers Hillel in the past year, honor past supporters, and look to the “rising stars” of the future.
Gathering on March 23 at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston for Hillel’s annual gala, Jewish leaders from across the state hailed the significant work and activities it provides for 5,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students on the New Brunswick campus.
“I want to thank the leadership of the Jewish federations and all the rabbis who support us from across the state,” student president Hilary Neher of South Orange told the gathering.
Neher and Zach Wilder of Mount Laurel, a former Hillel “Rising Star,” served as hosts.
In delivering the d’var Torah, Rabbi Bennett Miller of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick and a Hillel board member, said the organization “is affirming our people’s future, affirming our Jewish community of tomorrow. In truth it is our modern miracle.”
The dinner honored former Gov. Jon Corzine, who was not able to attend, Arthur and Betty Roswell of Bridgewater, and the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation. The Rabbi Julius Funk Alumni Award was given to Dr. Richard and Ellen Gertler of Teaneck. Dinner chairs were Philip and Gina Brod Vinick of West Orange, who were honored by Hillel at last year’s dinner.
Receiving Rising Star student awards were Lauren Glassman of Springfield, Rachel Hodes of Highland Park, Mitchell Leff of Short Hills, Julia Selznick of Haddonfield, and Sam Weiner of Paramus.
The Gertlers were the personification of the evening’s theme, “Get Engaged with Rutgers Hillel,” having met at the Rutgers Hillel Kosher Eating Club in 1970. A daughter and son-in-law also met through the organization.
The Roswells were chosen for their leading support of Kesher, the Reform student group, and their recent leadership gift of $750,000, of which $500,000 has been earmarked for the $15 million Hillel center at George Street and Bishop Place that will replace its cramped College Avenue site.
The Morristown-based Laurie Foundation was singled out because of its financial support to Hillel throughout the years and its “six-figure” contribution to the capital campaign.
For the second year in a row, the dinner was held at the Crystal Plaza, whose owner, Allan Janoff, is a member of the Hillel board and “whose generosity helped make the dinner affordable and practical,” said Hillel executive director Andrew Getraer.