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UD students are enjoying their winter break, the UD Hillel staff is busy planning an upcoming leadership retreat for their students. Eighty invested Hillel student leaders were invited to UD Hillel’s annual Shabbaton retreat taking place March 6-8, 2015 at the Siegel JCC. This retreat is part of their Leadership Education And Development (LEAD) program, developed back in August 2013 as a way to connect student group leaders and interns and provide them with opportunities to learn about Judaism, leadership and themselves. The LEAD program comprises of a monthly speaker dinner series, the annual leadership retreat, and most recently, a Delaware Jewish community-networking event for students to be held in March.

With the generous support of the I Could Do Great Things Foundation, UD Hillel is able to offer this retreat at no cost to students. Hillel Assistant Director Nicole Wasilus believes that these few days together will be an invaluable experience for the participants.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to bring our students away from campus for the weekend and allow them to focus on their personal growth and learning. Great things happen when all of our student leaders are in a room together. I’m eager to see what new ideas are generated”, Wasilus says.

Unlike the retreat in 2013 that was hosted at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Maryland, the Hillel staff changed the location of this year’s retreat to Wilmington, Delaware. Students will be housed nearby in the homes of local community members.

“We believe that moving the retreat to Wilmington will connect our Jewish student leaders to the larger Delaware Jewish community outside of campus. Most of the Jewish agencies and organizations are located in Wilmington- so we are excited to show our students what great resources exist just a few exits away from Newark”, Wasilus says.

Hillel Rabbinic Associate Jason Bonder, a final year student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, hopes to help infuse Jewish content and meaning into the weekend.

“The concept of Shabbat is not exclusively a sacred Jewish idea.” Bonder said, “The concept of resting in a purposeful way affects more than the Jewish people. It is also an idea that can enhance the productivity and creativity of leaders regardless of religion or belief. I hope the students will walk away from this retreat understanding that rest, rejuvenation, and reflection, are crucial components that will help make them better leaders. For our Jewish student leaders, I hope having a new perspective on, and deeper understanding of Shabbat will help them take new steps forward in their own personal Jewish journeys”.

President of Hillel Student Life Alex Zissman has been brought on as the LEAD Intern to help further expand the LEAD program. Zissman is excited to be involved with the planning of the leadership retreat, which he knows will be an incredible opportunity for him and his fellow Hillel students leaders.

“Over the span of a few days, we will learn about our own leadership style and explore resources which our Hillel, our university and the Delaware Jewish community offer. Another exciting component to the retreat will be the opportunity for the leaders of Hillel’s Jewish student organizations to strategically plan how to achieve their organization’s missions and goals throughout the new term.”

The 2013 leadership retreat was an overwhelming success. Zissman saw that “strong bonds were formed between student leaders.” He adds, “I am looking forward to having us return to campus after the retreat as a stronger community with leaders and change agents that are eager to achieve new visions for their organizations.”

This retreat will help Hillel fulfill their mission of enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.

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