Jewish tradition and peoplehood revolve around community. We are not meant to be alone. The Torah teaches not only that we are not meant to be alone but rather that we should be joyous with a community. Six years ago, I not only began my university journey, but I also joined a special community. In four years at Queens, I was privileged to be involved in growing Jewish life and interfaith engagement on campus. Two years after graduation, when an opportunity to return presented itself, I quickly accepted the position of Coordinator of Jewish Life.
The pandemic squelched much of Jewish life on campuses across the country. Although programs were offered on Zoom, it was not the same as face-to-face engagement. Now, we have the opportunity to reengage Jewish life on campus as we work to nurture and develop our close-knit, supportive Hillel. We provide opportunities for students to engage in leadership roles and create meaningful programs that will enrich campus life.
My vision is to support Jewish students as they grow in their Judaism by helping them engage with the wider Charlotte community. Our Queens Hillel offers a large Jewish umbrella. We have space for all Jewish students to be part of our community and learn from each other. We have space for non-Jewish students to join us as they grow on their interfaith journey.
Over the past few years, Queens has been encouraging interfaith cooperation and dialogue. This enables Jewish students to meet and work with organizations both on and off-campus. From volunteering and service projects to participating in other events on campus, the interfaith work at Queens is extensive. One of my favorite programs that I led in my tenure as Hillel President was the Soul Food Shabbat. This program brought Black and Jewish students together to learn about our shared history in this country, the different and similar challenges both communities face, and to share in each other’s cultures and cuisines.
Leadership is also a critical skill that we seek to develop in our Hillel students. I want to enable Jewish students to explore their passions and creativity and to express them in the community. The opportunities for internships, travel, and high-quality education are available at Queens and I strongly encourage our Jewish students to take full advantage of those opportunities. Queens took me to three different countries and enabled me to do an international internship. These opportunities existed for me, and they will be available for our Jewish students now and for time to come.
I am a proud Jewish Royal graduate from Queens University, and Jewish Life at Queens was an integral part of my Jewish journey that I look forward to passing on to others. As part of the lifting up of future classes of Hillel leaders, I sat down with Lia Federbusch to learn about her passion for Queens Hillel.
Interview with 2021-2022 Hillel President Lia Federbusch, a Queens Royal triathlete from Tel Aviv
Lia Federbusch is a native of Tel Aviv, Captain of the Woman’s Triathlon team, and president of Queens Hillel. She is pursuing a major in Business Administration with a minor in computing and data analytics. She chose Queens based on its values. As a Jewish international student, she was looking for a school that embraces diversity. Queens caught her eye as an institution that seeks to learn from different points of view.
As Hillel President, she is excited to bring her perspective as a Jew from Israel. She sees it as an honor to represent her religion and create a community at Queens. Lia noted that she has big shoes to fill following Morasha Winokur’s tenure as President of Hillel in previous years: “I hope that I will serve as a great leader and friend as she was for other Hillel members and myself.”
Lia’s favorite Jewish tradition is a Shabbat dinner. After a long week of school or work, the whole family gathers, stress-free, to appreciate each other. She said, “I’m looking forward to spending Shabbat with my Queens Hillel family and creating new traditions together.
Queens Hillel is excited to welcome college students to their Shabbat and holiday table. We extend an invitation to students at colleges across our city. If you know a Charlotte college student who wants to expand the circle of connections or if you want to support our work, please reach out to Noah Goldman, Coordinator of Jewish Life at Queens University, firstname.lastname@example.org.