Rabbi Michael Silbert has been named executive director, Jewish Chaplain, and Rabbi of the newly established Hillel at the University of Rochester. In this role, Silbert will foster the development of social, cultural, religious, and spiritual experiences and programs for students, faculty, and staff of the Jewish faith. He joined the University on July 15.
Rochester's Hillel community was previously a member of the Hillel of Rochester Area Colleges, supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester and sharing resources and programming with the Rochester Institute of Technology and SUNY Geneseo. Rabbi Silbert's appointment marks the beginning of the University's own Hillel foundation, which will provide the estimated 900 Jewish undergraduates on campus greater opportunity for programming and enrichment. Silbert also will work collaboratively with other chaplains and faith leaders in the Interfaith Chapel, as well as students, faculty, and staff committed to building a strong Jewish community at Rochester. Effective July 1, Rochester's Hillel is now supported by a Board of Directors comprised of alumni, parents, and friends of the University.
"I'm delighted to welcome Rabbi Silbert to campus," said Richard Feldman, dean of the College. "He's an energetic and enthusiastic leader who will work effectively with other religious leaders in support of interfaith activities and build upon the efforts of the Hillel of Rochester Area Colleges to strengthen the Jewish community on campus."
"I see it as my mission to make as many Jewish options as possible available to students," Silbert says, noting his eagerness to connect with young adults at a time when they are exploring Jewish growth in uniquely personal and meaningful ways. "Through these choices, they can discover their Jewish identities and feel empowered and nurtured to find what works for them individually."
Silbert is no stranger to the Hillel foundation, having served in a development role at the Boston University Hillel and most recently as executive director of the Vancouver Hillel Foundation. "We are very excited about the skill set and energy that Michael brings to this position," noted Hillel Chair Gabe Nechamkin. "Michael brings both passion for the student experience and strong rabbinical skills. We are confident that he will ably lead the development of our new Hillel enterprise."
Rabbi Silbert was ordained and received a Masters in Jewish Studies from The Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, in Newton, Mass. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and holds master's degrees in management of human services and Jewish professional leadership from Brandeis University.