When Matthew Fox ’19 went to his first Shabbat dinner at HWS in 2015, there were 15 people attending. This fall, he says, there were nearly 50 people at the Friday dinner. He attributes the increased participation to Julianne H. Miller, director of the Abbe Center for Jewish Life and Hillel adviser. “She made it so that every single person was welcome, and so many people came to a dinner, loved it and then kept coming back.”
In honor of her efforts on behalf of HWS’ Jewish and interfaith communities, Miller was recently presented with the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award by Hillel International, the global organization for campus Hillel groups. Miller was one of eight individuals nationally to be given the award.
A member of the HWS community since 2015, Miller has earned praise for her leadership role in the spiritual life of the campus. She has created or expanded programs including service projects, public remembrances at Yom HaShoah, celebrations of Passover and Purim, and support for students growing into their Jewish identities.
Those who recommended Miller for the award spoke of her strengths:
- “This is an incredible honor and well deserved national recognition for all that Julianne does on a daily basis. Julianne has touched the lives of countless students in unimaginable ways, and the Hobart and William Smith community is incredibly fortunate to have someone with her vision and compassion.” — HWS Dean of Spiritual Engagement and Chaplain Rev. Nita Byrd
- “The breadth and type of programming that Julianne created not only helped me stay connected to my faith while at school, but supported the development of my individual Jewish identity as a young adult living away from home for the first time.” — Tzipora Glaser ’18, MAT’19
- “In four years, the community has grown accustomed to the power of her presence at key moments in the life of the community. She has grown into a prominent and respected voice on the campus.” — The Rev. Maurice Charles, Dean Designate, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, The University of Chicago, and former chaplain of HWS
- “She brings meaning to every vigil and service she oversees, and her compassion and open-heartedness to all who seek her bring forth the best of her faith.” — Jennifer Tufano Grillo, office and event coordinator, Office of Spiritual Engagement
- “She brings communities to engage with each other. She shows her support beyond words and speaks loudly through her actions.” — Associate Professor of Religious Studies Etin Anwar
- “Julianne Miller’s character, commitment to Jewish life and personality are above reproach. [She] has expanded Jewish life at HWS in a manner few could think possible.” — Matthew Fox ’19
- “She lives her faith unapologetically and pragmatically, whilst making sure everyone—Jew or not—is welcome and fed (spiritually and physically).” — Professor of Geoscience Nan Crystal Arens
Miller received the award, which is the highest individual honor bestowed by Hillel International, at the organization’s annual Global Assembly held in Atlanta earlier in December.