Rabbi Ari Weiss, executive director of Cornell Hillel, is one of 16 honorees recognized by Hillel International, the largest worldwide Jewish campus organization.
The awardees, which include both individual leaders and campus Hillels, were honored at Hillel International’s annual conference in Atlanta in December for creating innovative experiences and meaningful connections to help students develop stronger ties to their Jewish identities.
Weiss, who has led Cornell Hillel since July 2016, received the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award.
“Ari serves as a model of how Hillels around the world succeed in engaging and educating students, no matter their size or location,” said Hillel International Interim President and CEO Adam Lehman. “We’re incredibly proud of our talented professionals for the work they do every day to inspire and support Jewish students and their entire campus communities.”
Weiss was honored for his work in growing Cornell Hillel. In just over three years, he has more than doubled the number of students that Hillel reaches, hired new staff, increased the organization’s budget and launched multiple initiatives that have transformed Jewish life at Cornell.
Weiss has also worked closely with the university’s senior administration, including serving on the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate.
“I am incredibly honored to receive this award,” Weiss said. “It recognizes the transformative work of Cornell Hillel in deepening the connection of thousands of Cornell students to Jewish community, values and ideas. And I would not have received this award without the support of an amazing team of passionate Jewish professionals, trusted lay leadership and partnership with the university.”
“We couldn’t be more thrilled that Ari has gotten the recognition from Hillel International for the remarkable work he has done over the last three-plus years at Cornell Hillel,” Elena Lefkowitz and Eric Alderman, co-chairs of the Cornell Hillel board of trustees, said in a statement. “He has literally transformed our Hillel, spearheading the Cornell Jewish Learning Fellowship, which adds serious learning for an ever-growing group of students, and shepherding our Perspectives trip to Israel which brings student leaders, many of them non-Jewish, to Israel for a nuanced experience of the political situation there. And, this year, Ari led us to embark on our most aspirational program, Base Ithaca, which has already made a huge impact on campus.
“Ari is leading Cornell Hillel to ever greater accomplishments,” they said. “We are so proud that he has received this honor.”