Geoffrey Zalter, the new student life co-ordinator at Hillel Ottawa – the campus organization for Jewish students at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University and Algonquin College – hopes to instil an attitude of positivity in his new role, as well as in the students and the Ottawa community-at-large.
“When they think of Hillel, I want them to associate it with fun and happiness,” he told the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin after his appointment was announced by Scott Goldstein, Hillel Ottawa’s executive director.
Born in Montreal, Zalter grew up in Toronto and eventually settled in Hamilton, studying at McMaster University and working as director of a Jewish daycare in and with Camp Kadimah Hamilton.
Zalter recently spent 10 months teaching English in Rishon LeZion, Israel, as a participant in the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows program.
While in Israel, Zalter also participated in a Hillel Fellowship program held in conjunction with the Masa program, which brought him into contact with Hillel professionals from North America.
“Working for Hillel has always interested me,” said Zalter, who was involved with Hillel as a student at McMaster University, but it was his program director at the Masa program who suggested he apply for the job at Hillel Ottawa.
“When he was in Ottawa, he met Scott [Goldstein] and some of the students who told him about the job,” said Zalter. “The more I learned about it, the more it appealed to me.”
As student life co-ordinator, Zalter will serve as the first contact for students who are involved with Hillel Ottawa or may be looking to become involved. He will also be in charge of planning events – either in conjunction with Hillel students, with Goldstein, or on his own.
Excited by his new role, Zalter has already been working on new program ideas, including collaborations with Hillel chapters in other Canadian and American cities to give Hillel Ottawa participants opportunities to meet and interact with Hillel participants from other parts of North America.
Zalter said he’s also looking forward to helping students follow through on their own ideas.
“When I see a student having a lightbulb moment,” he said, “I love to see those realizations. They can have a big impact.”