Xavier, Hillel form historic partnership to reach out to Jewish young adults

Programs planned by Hillel open to all Xavier students, faculty, staff | December 1, 2006

Xavier University and the Hillel Jewish Student Center have formed a partnership that establishes Hillel on campus. This is the first time there has been a formal relationship between Hillel and Xavier.

Rabbi Abie Ingber, the executive director of the Hillel Jewish Center of Cincinnati, is leading Hillel at Xavier. For several years, Rabbi Ingber has worked with the University to promote cross cultural and interreligious dialogue between the Catholic and Jewish communities.

“The growth of this relationship parallels Xavier’s mission, with its particular focus on the total educational and Jesuit mission of care for the whole person,” says Rabbi Ingber.

The partnership was celebrated at a recent reception. University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., Rabbi Ingber, Ben Gettler, a member of the Jewish Foundation’s board of trustees and Roger Fortin, Xavier provost and academic vice president, spoke about the shared commitment to enriching the lives of young adults through learning. It is hoped the partnership serves as a model for other institutions seeking to engage a diverse population.

“The relationship with the Hillel Jewish Student Center affords us the opportunity to better serve our students, faculty and staff by adding a diverse cultural and religious dimension to our campus,” Fortin says.

Rabbi Ingber is a very familiar face to many on Xavier’s campus. He is one of the co-creators of the award-winning exhibit, “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People,” which premiered at Xavier in May 2005. Since the premiere, the exhibit has traveled to the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., Duquesne University and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.

The partnership has already sparked several initiatives. Rabbi Ingber is co-teaching a course with Xavier associate theology professor Sarah Melcher. The course is titled Jewish/Christian Dialogues Today: The Search for Authenticity. As part of the class, Xavier students recently visited the Hillel Jewish Student Center on Clifton Avenue.

The programming staff at Hillel engages students weekly on Xavier’s campus. All of the programs planned by Hillel will be open to all Xavier students, faculty and staff.