Penn State Hillel’s Kaufman honored for enhancing Jewish student life

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Aaron Kaufman, executive director of Penn State Hillel, has been lauded for his support of Jewish students at the University.

In July, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life gave Kaufman the 2013 Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award for his work enhancing the campus life of Jewish students. He was one of seven higher education professionals to receive the award at Hillel’s 2013 professional institute at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Although receiving this award is a great honor and one that I very much appreciate, the student leaders of Penn State Hillel, our staff and the student body are the ones whose contributions resulted in this award,” Kaufman said. “Our mission at Penn State Hillel is to provide enriching Jewish experiences to students at Penn State so that they can go on to enrich the world; we take this mission seriously and strive for excellence each day.”

Hillel has a worldwide presence with organizations at 550 colleges and universities. Penn State Hillel’s mission is “To enrich the lives of the estimated 4,000 to 6,000 Jewish students at Penn State so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.”

Under Kaufman’s leadership, Hillel began organizing the monthly Jewish Leaders Roundtable, a gathering to strengthen the bond between Penn State’s Jewish student organizations. Penn State Hillel also reaches students through JewPAC, a student-run organization that provides funds for Jewish student groups and individual students to create enriching events on campus. Each year at least 100 students travel to Israel on Penn State Hillel's Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, and many Hillel students participate in community service oriented spring break trips.

“Aaron's approach is about innovation not only of programming, but also culture and organizational operations,” said Alex Bolotovsky, assistant director of Penn State Hillel. “He focuses on the how as much as the what and his drive, passion, creativity and strategic thinking continue to propel Penn State Hillel.”

Kaufman attended the University of Michigan where he received a degree in Judaic studies, cultural anthropology and studies in religion as well as a master’s degree in social work. He has been with Penn State Hillel since 2007, and was previously the director at Eastern Michigan University Hillel and the associate director at Cornell Hillel.

“Aaron has been an outstanding executive director of Penn State Hillel,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson, “and our students and community have benefited greatly from his leadership and mentoring.”

Contacts: 

Alex Bolotovsky

Work Phone: 
814-863-3816

Penn State Hillel

Last Updated August 14, 2013