Neustadt and Orlov Endowments help pay the bills for returning Hillel students

August 21, 2014

Many Ohio State University students are overwhelmed by soaring back-to-school bills.  With help from the Columbus Jewish Foundation, some of them are able work their way through some of the expenses.

College Junior Brittany Gajarsky, an accounting and marketing major from Akron, is this year’s OSU Hillel’s journalism/marketing intern. When the semester starts next week, she’ll be keeping her fellow students informed with the latest Jewish community news on campus and updating Hillel’s social media accounts throughout the school year.

Derek Grossman, 20, a Senior animal science major from Bellmore, N.Y., is chairman of Hillel’s social committee.  During the past month, he planned out Hillel’s “Welcome Back BBQ” that was held two days ago.

Grossman’s and Gaharky’s efforts aren’t unrewarded.  They are paid through two funds at the Columbus Jewish Foundation: the Ben and Ethel Neustadt Fund and the Anita and Bernie Orlov/OSU Hillel Work-Study Fund.  The funds offset college costs and help students make lasting connections to the broader Jewish community.

Tuition expenses at OSU and colleges nationwide have outpaced inflation for decades. And, Ohio is among the majority of states that have cut support for higher education in comparable dollars since the 1970s.

For Gajarsky and Grossman, the pay is only part of their benefit.

“I consider it a scholarship more than a paid internship,” Gajarsky said. “It’s really a blessing to have the opportunity to be connected to the Jewish community and be paid at the same time.”

Gajarsky is this year’s Neustadt Journalism/Marketing Intern, and she credits the Neustadt family for their fund’s assistance.  Ben Neustadt and his brother started co-founded the Ohio Jewish Chronicle in 1922.  His wife, Ethel, established the fund in her husband’s honor after his death.  Their family periodically adds to the endowment. Neustadt Interns learn to write press releases and news articles while working with publications such as the Ohio Jewish Chronicle.  Gajarsky will use her stipend to help cover tuition, but she said she also looks forward to working with Hillel and being part of the larger Jewish community in Columbus, which is something she missed after leaving a private Jewish day school to attend public high school.

Grossman is beginning his third year on Hillel’s social committee, which organizes and recruits students for campus activities such as the annual “Pizza in the Hut” Sukkot program, poker nights, spa nights, and singles parties.

He’s paid about an hourly wage through earnings from the Anita and Bernie Work Study Fund, which was established with six-figure gift in 1999. Bernie Orlov was co-founder of Columbus-based Berwick Steel Co., now a subsidiary of Coilplus Holdings. Realizing that many Jewish students need part-time jobs and meaningful work experiences, the Orlovs established their work-study fund hoping that it also would help promising students become develop as Jewish leaders through employment opportunities at Hillel.

“The Orlovs got a lot of satisfaction knowing that they ‘did good’ by the students and Hillel,” said Foundation CEO Jackie Jacobs, who advised them on the fund’s structure. “It was incredibly meaningful to them both.”

Grossman uses his earnings to cover food and other essentials. He applied as a freshman to become an intern after his fraternity brothers at Alpha Epsilon Pi brought him around to Hillel.  He was chosen to be an intern on the social committee the following year. This is his second year as committee chair.

Grossman grew up on Long Island in a religiously conservative family in what he calls a “very Jewish town.”  For him, working at Hillel is a natural fit.

“I have a strong Jewish identity,” he noted, “and that made me want to stay close to the Jewish community when I went to college.”

Article appears as originally published in the Ohio Jewish Chronicle, August 29, 2014.

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