2014 Lewis Summer Intern Program Orientation: Building community and Jewish identity

In June, the interns of JUF’s 2014 Lewis Summer Intern Program, an eight-week work/study internship program created by The Hillels of Illinois and funded by the Harriet and Maurice Lewis Family, began their first day of orientation. The 2014 cohort was given the morning to become acquainted with one another before being introduced to several speakers, including JUF Chief of Staff Jim Rosenberg and Andrea Hoffman, executive director of Newberger Hillel. 


Although the topics varied, one theme was common throughout the presentations: the strength of the Jewish community and the interns’ role as part of it. Rosenberg identified the two fundamental goals of the Federation as “building community and helping people” and encouraged the interns to contribute to this mission in their own way throughout the summer. Hoffman’s discussion of Jewish meaning centered around teaching the interns the recipe to a meaningful Jewish experience by building relationships, gaining knowledge, creating meaningful memories, and building community.


The first day also addressed professional development through activities such as speed networking, where the interns had one minute to introduce themselves to one another and identify a common interest or skill. Aleen Bayard, of MarketZing, gave a presentation about varying communication methods in the workplace and how to tailor their own communication styles to complement their supervisors.


The second day of orientation took place at Pushing the Envelope Farm in Geneva, Illinois. The community farm and education center, rooted in Jewish tradition, gave the interns a chance to put Hoffman’s recipe for a meaningful Jewish experience to the test by introducing them to sustainable farming practices that not only uphold Jewish tradition, but also contribute to the local community, just as the JUF does.


The interns were taken around the farm where they saw a sukkah tucked away in a wooded area of the 14-acre site and interacted with goats and hens on the farm. Later in the day, the interns learned to make pita, hummus, and candles and enjoyed a farm-fresh meal prepared by the incredible staff at the farm. The final activity before boarding the train back to the city involved teaching the interns what it means to build and sustain a community based on Jewish traditions and values. The interns were divided into groups in which they had to make decisions on how to construct and maintain their cities in accordance with Jewish values, while given a budget and limited options.


The third and final day of the LSIP orientation had a more somber tone. The cohort met at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center where they were gifted an entire day, including a tour of the museum and a presentation by George Brent, a Holocaust survivor originating from Hungary. The interns also learned more about the museum’s role in the Jewish community and in helping survivors pass on their legacy to educate younger generations.


Despite the inherent solemnity of reliving the events of the Holocaust, the tour contained an important message of hope: to defend those in our community to ensure that such events never take place again, impressing upon the interns that they have a responsibility to the Jewish community. Once the day neared its end, the interns were given the opportunity to reflect on their day and on their overall orientation experience.

With orientation behind them, the interns prepare to take on the summer and make their experience at JUF not only meaningful for themselves, but for the Jewish community as well.


Shir Avinadav is a Lewis Summer Intern.The Harriet & Maurice Lewis Summer Intern Program is partof the department of Campus Affairs and Student Engagement at Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago/Jewish United Fund. 

Posted: 6/18/2014 12:56:08 PM

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