Around Passover time, Galit Ezekiel is busy. Very busy.
“I strive to meet every single person who comes to the lunches,” says Ezekiel, development director at Hillel at the University of Washington, to the community Passover meals the organization hosts each year.
Ezekiel, now in her 12th year at Hillel, was honored with the Pamela Waechter Jewish Communal Professional Award at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s annual meeting on June 20. The award, which honors local Jewish communal workers who rise above and beyond their job description at work and in their community, is named for Waechter, who was killed seven years ago during the shooting at the Federation’s offices.
Ezekiel says she’s thrilled to be recognized.
“In a smaller shop we wear many hats,” she says. “I’m pretty much involved in every facet of the organization.”
Rabbi Oren Hayon, Hillel UW’s Greenstein executive director and Ezekiel’s boss, says she is “responsible for keeping the heart of Hillel beating.”
Ezekiel was nominated by her coworkers for her work inside the building — her mentorship of staff and young adults, as well as her attention to the day-to-day details of running a Jewish organization — but they were blown away to learn how she lives her life outside of her job: As a board member and chair of the religious school at Congregation Beth Shalom, and a volunteer at both Seattle Jewish Community School and the Evergreen School.
“I’m really impressed to see how she shows the same devotion and excitement that she does during the day with us at Hillel,” Hayon says.
Since the primary mission of Hillel is to provide Jewish resources for college students, one of the most fun parts of Ezekiel’s job is to see those former students who were once scared, uncertain freshmen now making their mark in the world.
“There are hundreds and hundreds of alumni that come back,” she says. “I love that they think of Hillel.”
Hayon notes that while Ezekiel is a very skilled fundraiser, it’s not just because she’s a good salesperson.
“She’s good at that because she finds things she’s impassioned about and communicates to people about why our support and generosity helps that good work go on,” he says.
And she has been effective. Hired in 2002 to support the efforts to construct its new building, Ezekiel diversified the organization’s funding sources and has tripled Hillel’s fundraising over the past decade, according to the Federation’s notes about her nomination.
Ezekiel is so involved because she is devoted to her community, but also because she wants to instill these same values in her children.
“I think it’s really important do to that, and live a meaningful life, just as it was modeled for me as a child,” she says.