Harnessing the Power of Service as a Defining Force for the American Jewish Community

Jeremy Cronig
Program Manager – Civic Engagement and Social Impact
Hillel International

In addition to the long history of collaboration between Repair the World and Hillel International, Jeremy Cronig (he/him), now Hillel’s Civic Engagement and Social Impact Program Manager, says the partnership has helped Hillel navigate questions they faced about the future of the organization and service opportunities.

“Even before COVID, we were thinking about the place of service in Hillel and the role service plays, and can play, in the lives of college students,” says Jeremy. “Repair has helped us answer those questions in a lot of ways, in partnership with us.”

“We’ve learned that this generation of college students demands that the organizations they’re a part of do good in the world,” adds Jeremy.  “So we have an obligation and, if we’re going to stay relevant to this generation of college students, we have to be doing this work.”

While Hillel approaches all of its work from a mindset rooted in Judaism, Jeremy says that the partnership between Hillel and Repair has supported volunteers to strengthen their connection to their faith. In year one, 100 campus corps interns on 96 campuses recruited 4,843 peers in service, catalyzing 5,312 acts of service and learning and contributing 26,299 hours of service to partners. For example, at the University of Virginia, campus corps members Jackie (she/her) and Rose (she/her) established a 15-person Jewish Service Corps group to help with local service events, learn, and connect.

Now called “Repair Campus Corps,” in year two, the new partnership cohort has 138 student interns globally building their own experiences in direct service and learning about Jewish values and issues of social justice, participating in trainings with Repair on how to show up in an authentic and supportive way, engaging in service through their Hillel, either on campus or in their community, and recruiting their peers to serve alongside them. They have all connected virtually through trainings and sub-groups based on issue areas, all grounded in Jewish values.

“The most unique part of this work with Repair is that each campus can customize the Campus Corps program and make it work for them, Jeremy says. “Repair is very flexible in this regard.  We want our campuses to lead their service efforts—to have them plan it and implement it—and this program allows for that. Each campus can make it their own.”

Survey results show that participants in programs offered in partnership with Repair feel more connected to their Judaism after engaging in service.

“Knowing without a doubt that people feel more Jewishly connected when they serve really affirms what we try to accomplish as an organization,” says Jeremy. Repair’s external evaluation found that 91% of Repair campus corps members said the program allowed them to do good in the world through a Jewish lens.

Samantha (she/her), a Hillel campus corps member at Drexel University, shared about her experience: “This program connected me with my local community and with the Jewish community nationally. Volunteering and serving my community is now one of the foundational ways through which I express my Judaism.” 

Partnering with Repair has led Hillel to encourage and provide service opportunity resources on a larger scale. Moreover, social impact is an integral part of Hillel’s strategic plans moving forward. “Partnering with Repair has been a transformative experience for us and has opened a lot of doors,” Jeremy concludes. “Focusing on service intentionally and through this partnership has been incredibly valuable for Hillel.” The partnership between Repair the World and Hillel International will continue to grow over the coming years through a recent investment for the Jewish Service Alliance to harness the power of service as a defining force for the American Jewish community from the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF).