DALLAS – Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, honored Hillel professionals and campus Hillels for their exemplary efforts in supporting vibrant, welcoming Jewish life at colleges and universities. The awards were presented during the 2023 Hillel International Global Assembly (HIGA), an annual gathering of Hillel professionals from around the world. Hillel at Drexel University’s outstanding work building a vibrant, inclusive Jewish community for students at Drexel University was honored with two awards.
Hillel International named Rabbi Isabel de Koninck a Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence, an award which honors professionals in various stages of their careers who live out the Hillel legacy of former president and CEO Richard Joel by embracing Hillel’s mission and connecting with students, colleagues, and stakeholders with enthusiasm and dedication. Rabbi de Koninck was nominated by Rabbi Seth Goren, CEO of Hillel of Ontario, who wrote about Rabbi de Koninck,
“A little over a decade ago, a newly minted rabbi took on the Jewish professional leadership at a school with a small and diffuse Jewish community nestled under the umbrella of a multi-campus Hillel. She painstakingly, indefatigably, and with seemingly infinite patience dived into her work..strategically building relationships and networks that would allow Jewish student life to flourish. She spoke up forcefully with and for those who felt marginalized, ignored, and invisible, ensuring that her Hillel and the Hillel movement as a whole became more inclusive and welcoming for everyone. Even as she built a board of directors, multiplied fundraising results, and grew into a celebrated campus figure, she always made time for her top priority: nurturing and supporting students…
Today, Hillel at Drexel University is completely unrecognizable from what it was in 2010. The Jewish population has blossomed, relationships across campus are numerous and strong, and this former solo professional now oversees more than half a dozen staff people, providing a diverse array of Jewish paths and possibilities…”
Drexel Hillel was also honored with the Excellence Award in Campus Partnership, which celebrates success achieved in a specific area of Hillel work, whether through the strengthening of a local relationship or the creation and solidification of new or existing relationships. Drexel Hillel was recognized for this award due to the strong ties Hillel has built in areas of programming, security, and trainings for staff and students across multiple departments and student organizations.
“Jewish students have faced unprecedented challenges on college campuses this fall, and Rabbi de Koninck and Drexel Hillel have gone above and beyond to protect, educate, inspire, advocate for and support their Jewish student communities in this fraught period,” said Hillel International President and CEO Adam Lehman. “I could not be more proud of the way the Hillel movement has shown up for Jewish students in this moment. Every Hillel, including at Drexel University, has stepped up in their own meaningful way to provide a home away from home for its Jewish community on campus, at a time when students need us more than ever.”
Honored in front of their colleagues and supporters in the global Hillel movement, the awardees were selected for their leadership and impact in advancing Hillel’s mission to enrich the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.
Reflecting on these awards, Rabbi de Koninck noted that “Drexel University is an extraordinarily special campus for Jewish students to call home, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to build a Hillel whose programming and reputation match the incredible innovation and ambition of our University. I am deeply honored to be named a Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence, and so proud to have earned this honor in a year when our Hillel’s tireless work to build bridges of mutual support and connection throughout our University has also been recognized for its unparalleled excellence.”