Dan Libenson will take over as executive director of Hillel this fall, replacing Rabbi David Rosenberg, director of nine years, who stepped down in the spring.
As a newcomer on campus, Libenson plans to acquaint himself with the U of C, and not just its Jewish population. The young lawyer said he plans to meet as many people as [he] can and connect what is traditionally considered a Jewish identity with those issues that students are passionate about.
The students here are smart, intense, and passionate about what they do, Libenson said. I think that they have the creative abilities necessary to make Jewishness relevant to a new generation, and I am excited to see what they can create.
He said he aims for Hillel to be an intellectual center on campus where students integrate what they are learning in their classesideas relating to ethics, literature, history, economics, and other areasinto their own lives.
Libenson hopes to include students in the organization in various ways, including social action get-togethers and weeklong activities around the holidays. Rather than one or two large programs, Hillel will sponsor five or 10 smaller ones, hopefully drawing in bigger, more diverse attendance, Libenson said.
Libenson was a student leader at Hillel as a Harvard undergrad, and subsequently worked as director for three years. His experience combines a major in biology, Harvard law training, and a background in all three major sects of Judaism: Libenson was raised Conservative, attended an Orthodox high school in Israel, and belonged to a Reform synagogue in Minneapolis.