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Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Katz

CSUN alum Rachel Katz knew she was going to get involved with Hillel 818 when she started college and picked her major. “As a Jewish Studies major it’s just kind of what you did. My sister was a part of Hillel at her college, so I had known about the idea of Hillel. Then I came to a Hillel 818 event with a friend and I just stayed.I even lived at Hillel for a couple of years!”

Considering she lived in the Hillel apartment, she was never far from Hillel events and had the chance to experience a lot of different opportunities just outside her front door. “Some great memories are from when I lived [at Hillel] and just seeing all the different events and being able to interact literally from my front door. That was always a plus.” But one moment in particular stands out from her time with Hillel, telling us, “I was one of the co-presidents of Challah for Hunger and one of my favorite memories was definitely our first event, when we were still trying to figure out the flow of things. I didn’t know who was going to be there, so I made pounds and pounds of dough for this event and I just remember going back to the kitchen constantly to check on the dough and asking, “Did it rise? Did it rise?” It was just this element of an event that I hadn’t done before, but having people there who were like, “I’ll help you, I got it!” made it feel like a real community building time.”

What carried Rachel through college also carried through her post college life. “Right after college I moved to Mississippi and it was nice knowing that when I would come back to visit I could come and see Hillel. The connections I made [at Hillel] with staff and other students helped shape my post-college experience. I learned how to network and build personal relationships, as well as other resources I wouldn’t have had access to without a place like Hillel.”

After graduating in 2017, Rachel sought a fellowship with the Institute for Southern Jewish Life in Mississippi. She credits her Jewish Studies major and Hillel experiences as a foundational experience that helped encourage her to pursue a professional career in the Jewish community.

“I lived [in Mississippi] for 2 years and worked with Jewish communities all over the south and implemented a curriculum we developed which was an amazing experience. Then I came back to California and I worked at Hebrew Union College for 3 years in the Office of Recruitment and Admissions where I was the Programming Calendar Manager. Most recently I started a job at Temple Israel of Hollywood as the Program and Operations Coordinator for the Religious School. Really I’ve been doing a lot of things in Jewish communities and it’s been busy.”

While she’s lived in other Jewish communities in the US, she loves coming home and being part of the LA Jewish community. She told us, “I feel very fortunate. I grew up in LA and I feel like I have so many Jewish community resources here. The fact that I was able to go from one Jewish communal job to another, I think that’s because I’m in LA and I know LA. It’s familiar to me, but it’s very big, and has a lot of opportunity. It’s great, it’s very refreshing to live in LA.”

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