This past December, UW Hillel staff made their way down to Orlando for the Hillel International’s third annual Global Assembly (HIGA). The conference brought together 850 Hillel professionals from across the world. The attendees were able to reconnect with old and new colleagues during the three day conference. Over the course of the conference, participants took part in plenary sessions, cohort gatherings, program and management training, and Jewish learning.
The opening night of HIGA was an incredible and meaningful experience for UW Hillel due in part to the award ceremony took place. Awards were handed out for Hillel professionals’ years of service as well as campus Hillels for growth and development. As awards were announced, cheering and shouts of excitement filled the ballroom, while the award recipients beamed with pride.
The most thrilling moment of the night came when UW Hillel’s Rabbi Andrea Steinberger received the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award. Rabbi Andrea Steinberger, who has been UW Hillel’s campus rabbi for the past 18 years, received the award for bringing innovative programs and trusted counsel to the UW-Madison Hillel and the greater Madison Jewish community. Eric Fingerhut, Hillel International’s CEO, announcement of Rabbi Andrea Steinberger’s name and her myriad accomplishments was a wonderful reminder of the hard work that UW Hillel does important work on the UW campus and in the Madison community. Fingerhut’s remarks highlighted Steinberger’s dedication and accomplishments. Before receiving the award, Eric Fingerhut shared these words about Rabbi Andrea Steinberger: “Our final exemplar serves as the rabbi to a Hillel truly run like a family affair. Personally recruited to University of Wisconsin-Madison Hillel 18 years ago by Richard Joel, Rabbi Andrea Steinberger has brought programs of considerable depth and breadth to Hillel. Among her recent accomplishments is the creation of the Jewish Artists' Lab of the Midwest, a Covenant Foundation funded project. The Madison lab, which Andrea runs, has the distinction of being the only one that includes Jewish college students and professional artists in side-by-side collaboration and exhibition. She is now teaching the Jewish Learning Fellowship for the third time and, in response to student demand, is developing a special civil rights curriculum. As if that weren't enough, she also supervises the Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow program on campus and is a sought-after advisor on pluralism and diversity in the small but active Madison Jewish community. Rabbi Andrea Steinberger has received a resounding vote of confidence from her students and peers, and not just from her husband, UW Hillel Executive Director Greg Steinberger! For nearly two decades of innovative programming and leadership at UW-Madison Hillel and the Madison Jewish community, we proudly honor Rabbi Andrea Steinberger with the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award.”
In addition to Rabbi Steinberger’s Exemplar of Excellence Award, UW Hillel was recognized for its continued efforts to reach every student on the UW-Madison campus. At the award ceremony, UW Hillel was proud to receive an exemplar of excellence award for Most Improved in Hillel International’s Measuring Excellence campaign.
At the conclusion of the award ceremony, an incredible, game changing announcement was made. Hillel International received a donation of $38 million dollars from Bernie Marcus and the Marcus Foundation; this is the biggest donation in Hillel International’s history. As the leading employer of entry-level Jewish professionals, the funds will be used to invest in recruitment and retention of Jewish professionals, ensuring that Hillel International can and will continue to have top talent at universities across the country that will help to shape the Jewish leaders of tomorrow. UW Hillel is excited to utilize these funds to continue to do amazing work and create meaningful opportunities at UW-Madison and within the Madison community.
UW Hillel is extremely proud of Rabbi Andrea Steinberger and the recognition that she received from her Hillel International colleagues. UW Hillel looks forward to having more exemplars of excellence on the Hillel International stage in the future.