Building a Strong Jewish Identity and Love for Israel at Hillel at Kent State University

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Lilly made Aliyah to Israel and enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in February 2020. When Lilly started at Kent State University in fall 2016, she had little to no connections to Judaism and Israel. Lilly grew up in an interfaith household in Lakewood, Ohio. When it was time to build her own identity, she had many cultures and life experiences to pull from, Judaism wasn’t the clear direction.

Lilly started her college career by trying out different academic programs and student organizations. At Hillel at Kent State University, a Federation beneficiary agency, she found a relatable group of friends and staff mentors that understood her unique place in her Jewish journey. Her friends encouraged her to attend Israel programming on campus and in doing so found a confidant in Hillel’s Jewish Agency for Israel Shliach (Israeli emissary). Lilly’s relationship with Hillel’s Shliach and student leaders exposed her to opportunities like Birthright Israel, educational programming, and Israel Leadership roles, eventually becoming Hillel’s VP of Israel on Campus for two academic years.

Throughout Lilly’s time on campus she traveled to Israel four times on organized trips, attended many advocacy conferences, and built her identity as a passionate Jewish Zionist leader. Lilly inspired a generation of college students just like her who are now stepping up to combat anti-Israel moments and build their own personal relationship with Israel.

You make stories like this possible because of your support to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland's annual Campaign.

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