NEW BRUNSWICK– Rutgers Hillel once again dominated the 2012 Rutgers Outstanding Students Celebration and Recognition (ROSCAR) Awards program conducted by Rutgers University Student Life – Student Involvement, receiving four awards at a ceremony held recently at the Rutgers Student Center.

ROSCARs are awarded annually to student organizations and individuals who have “demonstrated an immense amount of dedication of service and leadership to the university and community.” Outstanding students, student organizations and faculty/staff members are nominated for awards in 22 categories of campus programming, individual excellence and organizational achievement.

“Being nominated and ultimately recognized by the University is an affirmation of Hillel’s essential place in campus life,” said Andrew Getraer, Executive Director of Rutgers University Hillel.  “The students and professionals citedfor ROSCARs are among the University’s brightest and best.  They are what makes Rutgers Hillel a model of campus programming in the United States and a tribute to the Hillel professional staff that provides counsel and programming guidance throughout the year. On behalf of our volunteer and student boards, I congratulate the 2012 winners.  We are proud of their accomplishments.”

2012 ROSCARs went to Hillel in the following categories: Advisor of the Year – Rabbi Esther Reed, Hillel Senior Associate Director; Outstanding Diversity Initiative Program – Avi Interfaith Shabbat Dinner; RU Spirit Award – RU Scarlet Night Bar Mitzvah/Chanukah Ball; and Academic Excellence and Leadership – Sam Weiner.

Outstanding Diversity Initiative Program – The Avi Interfaith Shabbat Dinner was organized by graduating senior Zeke Pariser of Teaneck and brought together Jewish, Christian and Muslim students, university deans and clergy.  The students led prayers traditional to their faiths and explained rituals of their communities.

RU Spirit Award – The annual Rutgers Hillel Chanukah Ball was conducted this year as a Bar Mitzvah partyfor university mascot Scarlet Knight.  The event was a fundraiser for the Eric Legrand Believe Fund. Attendees received t-shirts and participated in games associated with parties.  Basketballs and a football, autographed by the varsity team coaches, were raffled.

Academic Excellence and Leadership – Senior Sam Weiner of Paramus, NJ, exemplifies excellence in both his academic achievement and extracurricular leadership.  He is passionate in his commitment to interfaith dialogue and was in the forefront of many campus activities dedicated tofostering understanding between diverse religious, ethnic and cultural groups.  His leadership talents and strength of character shone most brightly in 2010 when he joined in spearheading a campus response by more than 1000 students to the hate-mongering appearance on campus by the pastor and members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.

2012 Advisor of the Year (Arrigo O. Rogers Advisor of the Year Award) – This coveted annual award recognizes a faculty or staff member who goes above and beyond in his or her role as advisor by serving as a valuable resource and demonstrating dedication to the personal development of students. Rabbi Esther Reed of Highland Park fulfills that description and more. In her role as Senior Associate Director, Rabbi Reed is the chief operating officer of Rutgers Hillel, but to hundreds of students she is the “go to” counselor on issues academic, personal and religious.  She is the face of Hillel on several university committees and a trusted defender of the Hillel mission.

In addition to its four 2012 ROSCARs, Rutgers Hillelalso takes pride in awards won this year by organizations and individuals with whom they partner.  Shalom/Salaam’s Children of Abraham program was cited with an Outstanding Community Service Outreach ROSCAR.  Will Eastman, as a Hillel intern, was one of the founders of Shalom/Salaam, an organization which brings together Jews, Arabs, Muslims and others to work on non-political projects like soup kitchens and food banks.

Still another 2012 ROSCAR was awarded in the Against All Odds category toRutgers Hillel Immediate Past President Sarah Morrison of Edison.  Sarah, an involved and tireless campus leader during her four years at Hillel, overcame significant personal challenges in her senior year.  Sarah’s dad passed away suddenly leaving her as the sole provider of transportation for her mother who does not have a driver license.  Despite having to return home several times a week to drive her mom, Sara ran Beyond Bagels, a cross-denominational dialogue series for Jewish students; served on the elections committeefor the Hillel Student Board elections, and ran the Senior Series, a successful program encouraging seniors to remain active in Hillel during their final undergraduate year.