It’s another class act for Hillel of Greater Philadelphia as it prepares to honor five star students at its second annual Vision & Values celebration.
During the June 10 evening gala at the University of Pennsylvania, Hillel will also honor communal leaders Sherrie R. Savett, the president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and Robert A. Fox, a benefactor who has long been active in promoting academic excellence at area universities.
Here's a snapshot of this year's "Student Exemplars of Excellence."
Alison Frank, 20
Major: Pre-physical therapy at West Chester University
Hillel accolades: Running social programs, most notably “Promakkah,” an inter-campus formal dance during Chanukah.
“My mitzvah has made me into more of a leader than I ever truly thought I was,” contends Frank. “I have a much better idea of what it takes to run” a group “and how much communication and organization are key when it comes to being successful.”
Major: Social work at Temple University
Hillel accolades: Co-founded a Cook for a Friend program there two years ago. Since then, “we have cooked more than 5,000 meals that have been delivered to homebound seniors in the Philadelphia area."
Barry Taller, 26
Major: Dentistry at the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry of Temple University
Hillel accolades: Founder/president of the school’s branch of Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity, which is associated with Hillel’s GradNetwork. The fraternity was originally started to combat anti-Semitism at school, “but now focuses on philanthropy worldwide. There hadn’t been a Jewish organization present at Temple dental school for over a decade, and I wanted to help bring back that presence."
Organizing the group and programs such as a Mega Shabbat dinner at the Old City Jewish Art Center has "helped make me appreciate Philadelphia’s wonderful Jewish community," Taller says. "I hope that I have helped students see what I see now in the community.”
Elie Peltz, 23
Major: Political science and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania
Hillel accolades: Spending two years as the chair of Shira Chadasha of the Partnership Minyan movement, one of the religious communities at Penn Hillel. During this time, “the community grew tremendously, welcoming over 100 students from a variety of backgrounds to its services, and offering a range of educational and social programming” within its traditional Judaism scope, says the Bala Cynwyd native.
“My experiences at Penn Hillel have enabled me to cultivate incredible leadership skills, learning how to create programming that meets the values and needs of a diverse community.”
Major: Communications at Drexel University
Hillel accolades: Welcoming new members to Hillel through his role as the vice president and by helping create the Jewniversity program, “which allows freshmen and transfer students to move in early and spend two days just with the Hillel community.”