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Hillel’s Roth wins top professional award
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Hillel’s Roth wins top professional award

Rabbi Julie Roth, executive director of The Center for Jewish Life: Hillel at Princeton University, has been awarded one of the international Hillel movement’s highest honors for professionals.

Roth is one of seven recipients of the 2013 Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award, presented at the Hillel Institute 2013 in St. Louis, held July 29-30.

The award from Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life is given to professionals in various stages of their careers who have offered especially innovative approaches to enhancing campus life for Jewish students.

Among the initiatives Roth has helped direct at Princeton Hillel are specialized Jewish educational programs emphasizing both secular and Jewish ethics, a travel program offering student trips worldwide, and programs that expand the Muslim-Jewish dialogue.

“Rabbi Roth actively teaches in both classroom as well as in one-on-one settings and is passionate about engaging young Jewish adults in addressing today’s big issues while helping them navigate their Jewish journey on campus,” said CJL development director Robin Rudofker. “Rabbi Roth’s passion for pluralism, Jewish life, and multiculturalism has helped her build a campus environment that welcomes students of all backgrounds and simultaneously challenges and nurtures them.”

Roth, 40, a resident of Princeton, joined the staff as executive director in 2005, the same year she was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Along with a Hillel team that includes three rabbis, Roth has helped triple fund-raising for Princeton Hillel and has led the organization reach more than 70 percent of the Jewish students at Princeton.

“We try to bring a personal touch to knowing our students and connecting each one to leadership opportunities that will further their Jewish journey,” said Roth, who also serves as Princeton University’s Jewish chaplain.

Roth’s own journey began in her native Cleveland. She fondly recalls her Sunday school days, when one of her teachers was a future member of Congress, Eric Fingerhut, the incoming president of Hillel International. Fingerhut presented her award last month.

“I know Eric will strengthen the Hillel movement and help us to flourish worldwide,” Roth said. She also appreciates that the award is named for Richard M. Joel, whom she knows and has worked with in the past. “He was an important mentor who inspired me to become a Hillel professional.”

According to Darcie Crystal, CJL board chair, “Rabbi Roth is a courageous and visionary leader who seeks excellence in every aspect of her work. She’s a mentor and role model to the rest of the CJL staff, a teacher and pastor to the hundreds of students on campus who seek her out, and a true partner in our mission of reaching and impacting the life of every Jewish student at Princeton.”

CJL associate director Marni Blitz said she is “continuously inspired by Julie’s commitment to creating a culture of excellence among our staff, students, and lay leadership.”

Roth said her goals include recreating a bridge between the student community and the Jewish innovation sector to help inspire more entrepreneurial, start-up initiatives that could benefit Jews and others worldwide.

“People don’t realize what a positive environment Princeton University is for Jewish students,” Roth said. “Princeton has been one of the most generous partners of any Hillel chapter in the country and I look forward to the day when Princeton’s reputation for Jewish life meets its track record for excellence in Jewish leadership.”

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