Announcing the Norman E. Alexander Jewish Student Leadership Institute
The Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life, Columbia/Barnard Hillel, Launches the Norman E. Alexander Jewish Student Leadership Institute with $3 Million Endowment
NEW YORK — The Robert K. Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life, Columbia/Barnard Hillel, is proud to announce a $3 million endowment gift to launch the Norman E. Alexander Jewish Leadership Institute. Gail Alexander Binderman (Barnard College ’62), and her children Deborah and Daniel (Columbia College ’90), endowed the program through the Norman E. Alexander Family G Foundation in honor of their late father and grandfather, Norman E. Alexander (Columbia College ’34 and Columbia Law School ’36). Ms. Binderman was awarded Columbia/Barnard Hillel’s Gershom Mendes Seixas Award in 2019 in recognition of her support of Jewish life on campus.
“My father was an inaugural supporter of the Kraft Center, and a steadfast advocate of the Jewish people,” Ms. Binderman said of the late Mr. Alexander. “He would be proud to see the Jewish Leadership Institute, in his name, engaging the next generation of Jewish changemakers.”
The Norman E. Alexander Jewish Leadership Institute (JLI), will launch its opening cohort in Fall 2021. The centerpiece of JLI will be a yearlong fellowship for Jewish Columbia and Barnard students to enhance their leadership skills while exploring key issues affecting global Jewry. JLI participants will spend the academic year thinking critically and creatively about the challenges and opportunities facing the Jewish community, and connect with prominent lay leaders and professionals within the Jewish world. Each student will complete the fellowship with a capstone project that elevates a core issue facing the Jewish community, and engage their peers and the broader Columbia campus to better understand the issues of the Jewish world.
“The Jewish Leadership Institute is the first of its kind to engage Jewish campus leaders in such a significant way,” says Brian Cohen, Lavine Family Executive Director of The Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life, Columbia/Barnard Hillel. “Gail and her family have always been tremendous supporters of Jewish students on campus, and this gift will have an extraordinary impact not only on Columbia and Barnard, but the broader Jewish community. Their generosity enables us to innovatively support these emerging leaders.”
Robert Bressman (Columbia College ’76), President of the Columbia/Barnard Hillel Board of Directors, shares how meaningful this gift is, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic: “The investment that Gail, her son, and daughter have made in Columbia/Barnard Hillel, in Mr. Alexander’s memory, is transformational. The Kraft Center is a vital component of the greater Columbia community, and continues to expand its reach as the needs of Jewish students have grown during these unprecedented times. The Jewish Leadership Institute will launch at a pivotal moment for students, who are grappling with the current instability and uncertainty in the Jewish world and beyond. We deeply appreciate Gail and her family for their commitment to Jewish continuity and community.”
Columbia/Barnard Hillel, based out of the Robert K. Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life, connects more than 1,400 students to Jewish life on campus each year. Hillel responds to the unique challenges and experiences of Jewish students during their time on campus and provides opportunities and resources to support their individual journeys.