About Hillel at Ohio University
Hillel serves the OU campus community in areas of Jewish culture, education, history, social service, Israel advocacy, and communal experiences. Through involvement in Hillel, Jewish students learn valuable leadership skills, enhance their Jewish identity, and diversify the religious and cultural campus community.
Read about some of the individuals that make OU's Hillel a reality for students, alumni, parents, friends and the Athens community.
Board of Directors
The Board oversees the goals, vision, and development of Hillel at Ohio University.
Adam Ben-Porath, Student Member
Adam Ben-Porath is a junior at Ohio University studying Political Science and Global Studies—War and Peace. Adam is an active member of the Jewish community at Ohio University, currently working as an Israel Opportunities Intern at Hillel, and is also a vocal advocate for the State of Israel. A self-described Zionist and son of an Israeli immigrant, Adam takes issues dealing with Israel to heart and is passionate about countering racist and antisemitic movements including The Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Adam hopes to work to reach out to all Jewish students on campus, to make them feel welcomed and at home at Hillel regardless of what kind of Jewish upbringing they may have had. Growing up in a largely secular family himself, Adam truly believes that Hillel has something to offer everyone.
Lisa Eliason was a student at Ohio University in the 1970s. She and her husband left Athens in 1977 and returned in 1989 to raise their family here. Lisa was very active in the Hillel Sunday school and previously served on the Hillel board in the 1990s. Lisa served as the Athens City Prosecutor from 1990 until 2015. She now serves as the Athens City Law Director.
Marvin Fletcher, Treasurer
Marvin Fletcher, a retired Ohio University History professor, came to Athens in 1968. One of the things that drew him and his wife, Hilary, to Athens was the presence of Hillel. He has participated in a variety of activities centering around Hillel, including his own bar mitzvah (at age 31) and those of his two sons. He also served on the Hillel board in the 1970s. Among their donations to Hillel is the Torah cover, partially designed by his late wife Hilary and created by Deborah Anderson, a quilt artist in Columbus.
Matt Freedman is Senior Vice President of Branding at Continental Office—a Columbus-based workplace furnishings company.
Matt is a Chicago-area native and graduated from Ohio University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and in 1998 with a Master’s of Sports Administration and Facility Management. While on campus, Matt served as president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, anchored the news on ACTV-7 television and led tours to prospective students.
Matt makes frequent trips to Athens for client meetings and to support the Bobcat football and basketball teams. In Columbus, Matt keeps busy by serving as a board member at Temple Israel, chairing The Columbus Jewish Federation's marketing committee, and participating in adult sports leagues at the Jewish Community Center. He lives in New Albany with his wife, Lisa Schmerler Freedman, and three young daughters.
Elianna Lavon, Student Member
Chad Leikin is Senior Management Accountant at The NRP Group — a Cleveland-based apartment developer, general contractor and property manager. Chad is a Cleveland native and graduated from Ohio University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance. While on campus, Chad served on the executive board of Alpha Epsilon Pi, worked and had an internship at in the University’s internal audit department, and was a member of Beta Alpha Psi – an honors accounting fraternity. In the past several years, Chad has made annual trips back to Athens in a recruitment capacity for his former employers. In Cleveland, Chad keeps busy by serving as a Cleveland Jewish Federation YLD board member, attending various Cleveland sporting events, and golfing. He lives in Cleveland with his long-time girlfriend Leslie Shvets, who is also a proud Ohio University Graduate.
Lia Silver, Secretary
Lia Silver is an adjunct instructor of writing at Ohio University and Hocking College. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis, from which she also received a postgraduate fellowship. Her bachelor's degree is from Miami University of Ohio, where she majored in Interdisciplinary Studies. Lia has served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and has worked in the social services field, in both management and direct service positions. She lives in Athens County with her husband and two children.
Rabbi Eddie Sukol
Inna Tsyrlin, Graduate Student Member
Inna Tsyrlin is completing her MFA in Playwriting at Ohio University. She was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia; grew up in Melbourne, Australia; and has called America home since 2012. In Melbourne, Inna attended The King David School (a progressive Jewish day school) and has always felt close to her Jewish community and roots wherever she lived. Her writing also reflects the connection to and exploration of Jewish culture and history.
Longtime community member Dr. Alfred (Fred) Weiner served as board member and board president for over 20 years, most recently in 2003. Since then, Fred has continued to support OU Hillel, including establishing the Hy Weiner Student Fellowship which annually provides funding to support a student intern. As a couple, Fred and Carole Weiner regularly host an annual end of year party for community members, while Carole has served as song leader for Shabbat and High Holiday services, and for special children’s programs. Fred most recently conducted a successful fundraising campaign with local community members in support of a service leader for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In his professional life, Fred recently retired from Ohio University after 51 years where he most recently served as Director of Counseling and Psychological Services.
History of Hillel at Ohio U
In 1938, a small group of Jewish students joined together for friendship, Shabbat services and community on the campus of Ohio University. Since then, Hillel has served thousands of students in a myriad of ways, inspiring them to get connected to other Jewish students, build stronger Jewish identities, advocate for Israel, create meaningful opportunities for themselves and others, repair the world with tzedek opportunities and explore the rich tapestry of Judaism, Jewish culture and Jewish peoplehood.
Since Hillel's inception, we've cycled through several houses—who remembers our home on East Green in the 1950's, or our cottage on University Terrace in the 1960's?—and cycled through even more wonderful rabbis and communal leaders—Rabbi Harry Kaplan (z'l), Mr. Jacob Mirviss (z'l), Rabbi Joe Pollack, Rabbi Irv Wise, Mr. Scott Flashner, Rabbi Eddie Sukol, Rabbi Mark Newton, Rabbi Randy Segal, Rabbi Marianna Gevirtz (z'l), Rabbi Elena Stein, and Rabbi Danielle Leshaw.
In 1966, Athens Jewish community members purchased our current home, a duplex family house on historic Mill Street and expanded the building to include a sanctuary/multi-purpose room. In 2004, Hillel mounted a capital improvements campaign to renovate our historic home, creating a bright and expansive open floor plan that enables many more people to socialize, study, celebrate and organize.
If you're a prospective student or parent, or a current student, or an alumni, or just a friend, we welcome you to drop by and say hello.