Hillel, the world's largest Jewish campus organization, is dedicated to building Jewish identity and nurturing intellectual and spiritual growth for Jewish students in a pluralistic community.
"A Jewish student attending a Jesuit university faces challenges," said Hillel president and international director Richard M. Joel in presenting the award to Lerman. "Brian has worked to share the needs of the Jewish community with the administration and encourages partnership at every opportunity."
Interviewed recently, Lerman said, "The award came as a wonderful surprise. One of our goals has been to create a Jewish life on the Boston College campus. There have been a lot of changes in the Jewish community since I came here as a freshman. It is stronger, tighter and there is much more programming available for Jewish students.
"The Jesuit atmosphere of Boston College has been most welcoming," Lerman added. "We realize that we are in a minority here, but at the same time, we have found that it's 'OK' to be Jewish at BC."
Lerman said that in recent years Hillel has sponsored holiday religious services, a model Seder for the Boston College community, Holocaust programs and student Shabbat observances.
Campus Hillel membership has expanded from an original group of five students to more than 30 who have shown interest in the organization this year, Lerman said.
Under Lerman's leadership, Hillel was the recipient of the Dean of Student Development Office's "Ever To Excel" award for 2001-02 as the student organization having the greatest impact on the University community during the academic year.
"This was not a small feat," wrote Hillel faculty advisor Prof. Daniel Kirschner (Biology) in nominating the campus chapter for the ODSD honor. "BC Hillel was for many non-Jewish students at BC their first experience with the Jewish community and its issues and sensibilities."
Kirschner cited the group's involvement in campus, community and national venues in promoting Hillel members' "growth as American Jews and as future leaders."
Lerman, a native of Orange, Conn., is a history major with a minor in the Faith, Peace and Justice program. He plans to attend law school after graduation.
In addition to his campus and regional duties with Hillel, Lerman is a member of the Israel Campus Roundtable of Boston, the Soref Student Leadership Committee, the Hillel Council of New England's Board of Directors, and has participated in the Big Brother program for the past four years.
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