Nevan Mandel has been a participant in Colorado State Hillel for almost three years. Before coming to CSU, Mandel use to go to CU where he also frequented the Hillel. He was just a participant when he first started coming to CSU’s Hillel and then became a board member, which he has been for the past two years.
“Judaism is an important part of life,” said Mandel when asked why he decided to participate in Hillel. He didn’t grow up in Jewish communities, and Hillel was the first Jewish community he had in his life. “Being able to embrace and learn about my heritage has been cool,” explained Mandel. “It’s nice to have the opportunity to put emphasis on things that interest me into this community.” Mandel joined Hillel’s leadership team became he wanted to support Judaism on campus and felt that participating in Jewish culture was important. “I enjoy being part of the Jewish community,” said Mandel.
Mandel recently became the Sustainability and Operations Coordinator, which is how he puts his interests into Hillel. He is very passionate about sustainability and has spearheaded the movement towards a more sustainable Hillel, such as getting chickens for the backyard for eggs, a compost and getting reusable plates in the meat kitchen. Part of his role is to also find students who want to be involved in the sustainability aspect of Hillel. “There are many Jewish people who care about these values and by engaging around them as an organization, we can … help foster Jewish community in Fort Collins,” said Mandel.
Making Hillel more sustainable is an important part of Mandel’s ideals. “We eat so much here at Hillel and it’s an important part of Jewish ideals,” said Mandel. “To shepherd and and take care of our surroundings and make sure we are respecting the gifts [e.g. food] we have as a people.” Mandel explains that many of Hillel’s events are centered around food and he wants to make sure Hillel isn’t wasting anything so that we can have a positive impact on the community. “By taking these initiatives, we can not only make out Hillel more sustainable and environmentally friendly, as well as more efficient and more productive,” said Mandel, who mentioned that it’s nice that Hillel gives him the opportunity to give back to the Jewish community in a way that he is passionate about.
Aside from Hillel, Mandel has also been working with other Jewish sustainability organizations, such as Hazon and Jewish Initiative for Animals. Through these organizations, Mandel has learned how integral sustainability is to Judaism. “It’s been huge for me and I really enjoy learning about that,” said Mandel.
Mandel explains that being sustainable can vary by different people’s lifestyles, but he makes it a big part of his life. Outside of Hillel, Mandel tries to compost his food, as well as advocates to source food locally and organically. He also rides his bike everywhere and encourages everyone to ride their bike. “I want people to get on that bike riding train,” said Mandel.
While sustainability is an important aspect, it is not the only thing Mandel appreciates about Hillel. “I’ve never had a Jewish community before,” said Mandel. “Having one here at Hillel has given me a sense of belonging. Having a small but beautiful Jewish community has made quite the difference in that aspect of my life.”