University of California, Irvine’s Hillel has a new program director, Rebecca Goldberg, to take on the challenges of organizing Hillel and bring in unaffiliated Jewish students.
I recently had the chance to sit down with her at her small office in the Hillel building near UCI, where I study.
With Goldberg’s warm smile and approachable personality, she is easy to talk with. A newlywed, she’s surrounded her desk with pictures of her and her husband, along with a Beta fish parked near her guest chair.
After our introductions to one another, we started the interview: As a largely unaffiliated student myself, I wanted to get to know more about my school’s program director and her prime responsibilities.
Goldberg’s purview includes overseeing all of the Jewish programs at UCI and staffing the three student groups: the Hillel Student Board, Peer Network Engagement Interns (a group that reaches out to uninvolved Jews on campus) and the Social Media Team (a group that does Public Relations for Hillel). These three programs will help with the “personal and professional growth with the students,” according to Goldberg.
Goldberg is new at the post which she began in early July after former program director Sarah Austin transferred to Chapman. Currently, Goldberg is still adjusting and reflecting on her new job title.
“My expectations are to help and empower the students to make the most out of their Jewish life on campus,” Goldberg said.
To fulfill this goal Goldberg hopes to develop relationships with the students through simple communication: building trust with them and talking to them. She wants to be their guide to help students figure out what they want to do, and a resource for imparting Jewish traditions and customs.
With that expectation, she looks forward to getting to work and so far, Goldberg is loving the students.
Goldberg is no debutant in the Jewish world. Her care and dedication for Jewish students comes from both previous employment and education. She did her undergrad at Cal State Long Beach and recently completed a dual masters program at the University of Southern California in Social Work MSW and Hebrew Union College in Jewish Non-Profit Management.
Besides her higher education, Goldberg interned in various Jewish organizations and worked in positions including as a tour guide, camp counselor and teacher assistant. During graduate school Goldberg interned with Jewish Family Service in Los Angeles where she worked with clinical seniors. Additionally, she interned at the Long Beach Jewish Federation where she succeeded in involving the Orthodox community, something that had not been done for awhile.
Being a program director is her first full-time position and a job made more difficult in that executive director Jordan Fruchtman is leaving. (In the course of the interview Fruchtman shouted from the next room that Goldberg is “amazing”. Goldberg blushed.) There is no word if Fruchtman is being replaced so Goldberg might take on his responsibilities as well.
But with such a bright outlook and appreciation for the students, Goldberg is already well on her way towards improving Jewish life at UCI.
Students in the area are welcome to visit Goldberg located at the Hillel Center on 4255 Campus Drive, Suite 250 in Irvine, CA. Or you can drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The writer is a JewliciousU intern and a student at the University of California, Irvine.