Noam Bentov is leaving his post as executive director of the Towson University Hillel after nearly two years to become executive director of the Johns Hopkins University Hillel.
The announcement first came in a Facebook status on Bentov’s personal page May 12. Bentov told the JT he plans to remain at Towson through the end of the school year and that he will start at Johns Hopkins “around June 26.”
An in-house search committee at Johns Hopkins chose Bentov among a pool of national candidates to replace Rabbi Debbie Pine, who has served as the Johns Hopkins Hillel executive director since 2009.
“It’s a little bit bittersweet,” said Bentov, who earned his master’s degree in leadership in Jewish education and communal leadership from Towson last year. “I still love Towson and am leaving after creating many, many meaningful relationships and great connections. I love the students. It’s sad to leave, but it’s great to have the opportunity to connect with Johns Hopkins.”
Bentov, 38, brings a decade of experience working in various Jewish organization to Johns Hopkins since earning his undergraduate degree in political science and history from Tel Aviv University in 2007.
A native of Herzliya, Israel, Bentov joined the Towson Hillel as assistant director in 2013 after spending two years with the Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel program in Washington, D.C. He also held positions at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington and the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill in Durham, N.C., prior to Towson.
Bentov said one of his most meaningful accomplishments at Towson has been the plethora of students who have interacted or engaged with Hillel.
This school year alone, he said, as of May 19, 676 students interacted with him or his staff through Shabbat dinner gatherings, coffee dates, one-on-one meetings and other events. That represented a 152 percent spike from the previous year, Bentov said. Towson has about 2,000 Jewish students, accounting for roughly 10 percent of the undergraduate population.
He hopes to do more of the community-building initiatives at Johns Hopkins, which boasts more than 600 Jewish students, or 13 percent of the total undergraduate population.
“I see myself as a community-builder,” said Bentov, who resides in Columbia with his wife, Becca, 34, and their children, Eitan, 1, and Lilly, 3 months. “I want to continue building on the great work that Debbie has done. I want to make sure the students at Johns Hopkins are proud of their Hillel and that they feel welcomed and that we create a radically inclusive community as well.”
To ensure a smooth transition, Bentov said he has been consulting with Pine, who he has known and worked with in the community for the last four years.
Pine, 52, is taking a job at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore under the organization’s senior vice president of philanthropic planning and services, Michael Friedman. Her last day at Johns Hopkins is Friday.
She said the thing she’ll miss most about Johns Hopkins is the day-to-day interaction with her students, staff and board, specifically helping to enrich the school’s on-campus Jewish experience.
“I feel really lucky to have had this opportunity and to stay connected to the Jewish community,” said Pine, whose husband, Rabbi Andrew Busch, is spiritual leader at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. “It’s been really, really wonderful to have gotten the chance to work with such wonderful students, and I know that Noam will continue to take the Johns Hopkins Hillel to the next level.”