(Courtesy of Rutgers Hillel) Rutgers Hillel, one of the oldest and most influential student organizations on the State University of New Jersey’s campus, will hold its annual gala once again this spring, in person. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Hillel will welcome several hundred people to its College Avenue hub to honor a slate of alumni and leaders instrumental in maintaining and advancing this venerable and activist organization that dates to World War II.
Since 1943, Rutgers Hillel has served what has become the largest Jewish student undergraduate population in the country.
On Monday evening April 11 it will recognize the singular and outstanding contributions of Andrew Getraer, Rutgers Hillel’s longtime former executive director; real estate executive and educator Ronald Ladell; and prominent land-use attorney Meryl Gonchar and Ariel and Liran Kapoano, who found success (and each other) at Hillel more than a decade ago.
As is tradition, the organization is also naming its distinguished Student Rising Stars: Ari Alter, Ilana Berkman, Samuel Iofel, Morgan Lewin and Robert Samuel. All the honorees represent the Garden State from top to bottom, east to west.
Ron Ladell will receive Rutgers Hillel’s Visionary in Partnership Award for his strong moral character, compassion and devotion to Rutgers’ students and community. Ladell serves as senior vice president of AvalonBay Communities, a leading real estate investment trust. When he’s not developing real estate, he’s developing the next generation of industry leaders through his involvement on the Rutgers Center for Real Estate Studies Executive Committee.
Andrew Getraer is the first winner of Rutgers Hillel’s Exemplar of Excellence Award, a unique recognition established in his honor for 20 years of extraordinary service to Rutgers Hillel. Under Getraer’s leadership, Rutgers Hillel became the flagship Hillel in the country, continually establishing new and educational programs including the Rutgers Hillel Center for Israel Engagement, the Reform Outreach Initiative, and Health and Wellness partnerships with the university. He is largely responsible for bringing the $20 million Eva and Arie Halpern Hillel House to reality and seeding the Wilf Family Campus on which it sits.
For her continuing commitment to Jewish life on campus, attorney Meryl Gonchar, of Sills Cummis and Gross, P.C., will receive Rutgers Hillel’s prestigious Rabbi Julius Funk Alumni Award. Gonchar is an alumna of Rutgers College and Rutgers School of Law in Newark and regularly lectures at Rutgers Graduate School of Business and Rutgers Business School on the topics of real estate and land development.
Ariel and Liran Kapoano are being honored with Rutgers Hillel’s Young Alumni Award. The two met in November 2010 on the steps of 93 College Avenue, the former home of Rutgers Hillel. Ariel attended NYU School of Law after graduating from Rutgers and began her career as a litigation associate at Hughes Hubbard and Reed in New York. She joined the litigation practice group at the Princeton office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in 2016, and is currently a senior associate there. Liran is the partner and chief operating officer of DK Solutions, a direct marketing firm which leverages 21st century data modeling tactics to make one of the oldest and most time-tested forms of marketing more efficient and more profitable.
This year’s crop of Student Rising Stars has demonstrated exceptional leadership at Rutgers Hillel throughout their academic careers.
Ari Alter is a chemical engineering major, graduating in May 2022 and will be working for ZS Associates as a decision analytics associate in the field of pharmaceutical consulting.
Ilana Berkman majors in classical humanities and minors in Jewish studies, history, and religion and will be graduating in May 2022. She currently serves on the Hillel student board as reform community co-chair.
Samuel Iofel is a senior at Rutgers, majoring in genetics and minoring in economics. Samuel will be applying to medical schools in June. Sam has served as the Orthodox Community gabbai and the Israel Chair at Rutgers Hillel. He is currently president of the Rutgers Hillel student board.
Morgan Lewin majors in genetics and minors in food science. She is a junior and is interested in pursuing a career in nutritional genomics and food sustainability. Morgan participated in Kol Halayla, Rutgers Hillel’s a capella group, currently serves as the creative content and social media intern for the Rutgers Hillel Center of Israeli Engagement and has been selected as an inaugural Weidhorn Fellow.
Robert Samuel graduated Rutgers Business School in January with a Bachelor of Science in supply chain management and is now working for JetBlue Airways on its strategic sourcing team. Robert serves as vice president of communication for the Hillel Student Board.
Rutgers Hillel’s Spring Gala is set for 6 p.m. on Monday April 11 at 70 College Avenue, New Brunswick. Seating is limited. For ticket information see RutgersHillel.org/gala2022/ or call Barbara Cohen, 732.545.2407. Kosher dietary laws will be observed.
NOTE: This event will adhere to all Rutgers University COVID-19 protocols in force at the time. All attendees will be required to provide proof of full vaccine status prior to arrival.