Hillel International, Penn Hillel announce Jewish Innovation Endowment

Photo credit: The Daily Pennsylvanian
Photo credit: The Daily Pennsylvanian

Hillel International’s Office of Innovation and University of Pennsylvania’s Hillel (Penn) have established the Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Jewish Innovation Endowment, a joint venture. The Endowment will fund several projects – the Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Jewish Innovation Summit, Innovation Fellow and Innovation Award – all designed to foster creative thinking and new ideas towards Hillel’s vision of inspiring every Jewish student to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. This initiative is made possible through a gift from the Eleanor M. and Herbert D. Katz Family Foundation.

The Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Jewish Innovation Summit will annually convene Hillel professionals from all over the country to explore the most innovative and cutting-edge methodologies for reaching and inspiring the next generation of Jewish students. Summit topics will reflect the full complexity and richness of Jewish life, including prayer, community organizing, and use of technology.

“The Summit will be a platform for visioning and generating new ideas,” said Rabbi Dan Smokler, Hillel International Chief Innovation Officer. “Thought leaders from both within the Hillel system and outside of Hillel will have the chance to challenge and provoke Hillel professionals to think in new ways.”

Added Rabbi Mike Uram, Executive Director and Campus Rabbi at Penn Hillel, “Hillel is the ideal venue for Jewish innovation because the future of Judaism is being created on campuses every day. This endowment will help foster programs that allow students to showcase their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit as we seek to discover new ways to together build a brighter Jewish future.

The Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Innovation Fellow will oversee the Summit and serve as an aggregator of innovations from Penn Hillel, the Office of Innovation and the entire Hillel movement, fostering a culture of innovation.

The Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Jewish Innovation Award will honor and reward the best Jewish innovations incubated on campus that are bold, creative, and deeply impactful to students.

The Katz and Meyerhoff families have also been leaders in supporting several initiatives at Penn Hillel that have become national models for the larger Hillel system including the Jewish Renaissance Project, whose award-winning model has now spread to more than 120 campuses.

“Our mother, Eleanor, was an innovator and change agent during very critical years for Hillel International, and with our family’s long time association with Penn Hillel, this endowment is a wonderful way to honor her legacy of local empowerment and national visioning,” said her daughter Sally Katz.