With a month of the semester having already passed, Hillel at Binghamton University has hired a new assistant director following the departure of their executive director.
David Berman, who began his new position on Sept. 30, joined Hillel after living in Los Angeles for the past 13 years.
According to David Raphael, interim executive director for Hillel, Berman was hired after a series of interviews with Hillel professionals, members of the student board and members of the Hillel at Binghamton board of directors.
“He was selected because of his experience in non-profit management, his advanced degree in business and his Jewish background,” Raphael wrote in an email.
While in Los Angeles, Berman was involved with the development of two nonprofit organizations: the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and The Guardians of the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging. He also worked as development associate for BREATHE California of Los Angeles County — a nonprofit that promotes clean air and healthy lungs — up until a few months ago.
It was these qualities that Andrew Topal, former president of Hillel, said he valued most in the selection process. Topal and Belle Yoeli, the current president of Hillel, were both involved in the search for the new assistant director.
“David Berman has significant experience working with Jewish not-for-profit organizations around the country,” Topal, a senior double-majoring in political science and economics, wrote in an email. “We are excited to welcome him to the Hillel at Binghamton team and invite the rest of the campus community to meet him.”
Raphael, who has been acting as the part-time interim executive director of Hillel following former director Shana Kantor’s departure for Miami, is also involved in the staff search for a full-time executive director. A new director is anticipated for spring 2014.
Katie Shepard, vice president of Hillel and a junior majoring in psychology, expressed excitement at the additions to Hillel’s staff.
“While it has definitely been different, and at times challenging, without having the same number of staff members around, the Hillel community has really pulled together during the past few weeks,” Shepard said.
Maya Yair, director of Tzedek (social justice) of Hillel and a senior majoring in political science, also said she was glad to have another staff member to help out in the office.
“As students, we put in as much time as we can to our events and initiatives, but we are primarily students, with responsibilities to our classes,” Yair said. “Having a full-time staff member who can dedicate all of his time to better accomplishing Hillel’s mission is a really exciting prospect.”
One of the issues Berman will have to deal with in the coming year is the fact that Hillel is without a rabbi.
“Though we currently do not have a rabbi on staff, we’re formulating a “Shabbat Scholars” program where a visiting rabbi or Jewish scholar will come for Shabbat (Friday evening and Saturday), speak to students, and lead learning sessions,” Berman wrote in an e-mail.
He also plans to offer more opportunities for Jewish learning through Hillel programs, including peer-based learning.
Berman attended his first Shabbat dinner on campus Friday night, explaining that he was impressed both by the large number of people in attendance, as well as the welcoming atmosphere created by students.
Despite making a significant transition from L.A. to BU, Berman is looking forward to what Binghamton and the University has to offer.
“The students here are ambitious, forward thinking, and work hard to make the most out of their time at the University,” Berman wrote. “This is my first job in a university environment, I am blown away by the professionalism and devotion of the student leaders at Hillel.”
Berman graduated from Indiana University in 2000 where he double-majored in telecommunications and communication and culture. He received his MBA from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business in 2010.
—Rachel Bluth contributed to this report.