Hillel Gets New Structure, Picks New Leaders

Harvard Hillel elected its spring 2002 steering committee last night in the first election following its dramatic overhaul of the governing body’s structure.

Benjamin P. Solomon-Schwartz ’03 will assume leadership of the committee from Benjamin Z. Galper ’02 at spring semester. Both Solomon-Schwartz and Galper are Crimson editors.

Solomon-Schwartz said his goal for the next year is to ensure that all Harvard community members who wish to lead Jewish lives be able to take advantage of Hillel’s resources.

He said he hopes to simultaneously enrich the Jewish experience for those already involved in Hillel.

“They may not seems profound, but they’re Hillel’s greatest challenges,” Solomon-Schwartz said.

The overhaul of the committee’s structure, which has been in the works for the past two years, expands the student membership of the committee from four to six and tweaks position names and duties.

Galper’s steering committee consists of Galper as chair, as well as an associate chair, a secretary and an events coordinator. This spring’s steering committee will have Solomon-Schwartz as president, along with five vice presidents.

The new structure also consolidates the subcommittees underneath the committee members in an attempt to keep its offering consistent with Hillel’s building-wide vision.

There are currently 18 subcommittees, from a Jewish education group to a social action group. Under the new structure, the larger groups will work to integrate their programming with the steering committee’s vision.

“There was a real disparity between the vision held by the steering committee and the day-to-day programming that was being organized through the committees,” Galper said. “Under the old structure, that vision was being lost.”

Solomon-Schwartz said that while he is excited about the possibilities created by the new structure, which he helped bring to reality during the past year-and-a-half, he is wary about the effect the emphasis on a coherent vision might have on the diversity of Hillel’s programs.

“One thing to watch out for is that...individual initiatives and individual creativity don’t disappear,” Solomon-Schwartz said. “That’s one of the most exciting things about Hillel.”

The other committee members elected last night are David C. Castle ’03, vice president for community building, Zach L. Bercu ’04, vice president for outreach, and Jason B. Rubenstein ’04, vice president for education. Benjamin I. Rapoport ’03 was appointed vice president of communications by both incoming and outgoing committee members.

Rapoport is also a Crimson editor.

“The group of people that will be the steering committee for the new semester have a lot of passion, a lot of experience in the Hillel community,” Solomon-Schwartz said. “But we’re also coming from different perspectives, so as a group we’ll really bring in different ways of thinking about Jewish life.”

—Staff writer Juliet J. Chung can be reached at jchung@fas.harvard.edu.