[see full size image] Hillel director Kerry Hollander talks with students during a dinner at the Hillel Center Dec. 5. ‘It's all about them, watching them grow and learn,' Hollander said. ‘I just love it.
It is a culmination of my education, and my love of the Jewish tradition and religion and interaction with students who are in an exciting and dynamic time of their lives.It's really a perfect job.' (Photos by ANDREA TAYLOR/Missourian)
Between 52nd Street and Paseo Boulevard and 54th Street and Charlotte, Kerry Hollander
grew up in a Catholic neighborhood in Kansas City - though her
life and home were centered around Judaism, and the synagogue was just 20 blocks away.
Hollander's sense of Jewish identity began in the bottom level of a two-bedroom duplex that housed six people.There, her
childhood consisted of Jewish rituals, Friday night Sabbath dinners and Hebrew school - the beginnings of a life cycle permeated by Judaism.
Now, decades later and 125 miles away, Hollander
still centers her
life around Judaism as the executive director at the Hillel Foundation
Jewish student center and part of a national network of campus centers.Hollander
, 58, said she
feels tremendous responsibility toward keeping the Jewish identity alive among students.She first came to MU and Columbia in 1963 - a turning point in her life when she decided to go to college away from home.She
wanted to be an elementary school teacher.Her
father had not wanted her
to leave home because, in the neighborhood in which she
grew up, young women were supposed to stay with their families until marriage.Hollander
was the first woman in her
family to pursue a college degree.
first year at school, she
future husband, Ed Hollander.In 1967, they were married in Kansas City and then moved to St. Louis, where she
taught school for a number of years, until they started a family.
"When I was an underclassman, I found that a lot of people had never met a Jewish person in their entire lives, and they would ask me lots of questions and I could answer a lot of them, but there were many that I couldn't, so Kerry
and the library here provided a good resource."