Meet the staff

Meet the staff

The expanded Hillel JUC staff
The expanded Hillel JUC staff

Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh has hired three new staff members, and now boasts six full-time staffers dedicated specifically to programming.

Danielle Kranjec has been hired as Hillel JUC’s first senior Jewish educator; Robyn Markowitz Lawler joins the organization as the Janet L. Swanson director of Jewish student life at the University of Pittsburgh; and Roi Zeichner will join the staff in August as the Herman and Helen Lipsitz Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow.

“We’re gearing up to have the largest programming staff ever at Hillel,” said David Katz, interim executive director of Hillel JUC. “We will have six full-time staff just dedicated to doing programming for our young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 29.”

Katz will resume his post as assistant director of the organization when Dan Marcus, the newly hired executive director, comes to Pittsburgh from the United Kingdom next month.

Kranjec’s newly created position was added to the rolls of Hillel as a means of infusing more Jewish content into the organization’s typical programming, Katz said.

Kranjec, who most recently served as the adult education coordinator at the Agency for Jewish Learning, has a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from Oberlin College in Spanish and Jewish studies, and a master’s degree in Medieval Jewish studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

“I’m really excited,” Kranjec said. “This is such a good opportunity, and a really good fit for me.”

She is looking forward to adding traditional and ritual Jewish components to a variety of activities for the young adults on campus and beyond.

“There is room for deepening and strengthening the role of Jewish ritual and Jewish practice,” she said. “I’m interested in weaving deep Jewish connections and content into everything that’s happening. We’re not just Jewish on Shabbat. There is a lot of opportunity for empowering the students, and strengthening the students with Jewish knowledge, and bringing it more to the forefront of what we’re doing.”

In other news at Hillel JUC, Lauren Glazin has been promoted to the post of director of J-Burgh, which serves the needs of the approximately 2,500 Jewish graduate students and young professionals in their 20s living in Pittsburgh. Glazin will succeed Katz.

Katz is looking forward to capitalizing on the opportunities afforded by such a full staff.

“We have built so much these past few years,” he said, “and we’re excited to have such a full staff which will allow us to concentrate on the depth of our programming.”

While Hillel JUC currently serves about 40 percent of its total market, Katz said its goal is to reach 70 percent of that market in the next two to three years.

“The focus is all about relationships,” he said, adding that having a larger staff will naturally increase relationship building.

Marcus, who will start as executive director in August, sees the expanded staff as providing the chance to offer a variety of experiences to the varied population the organization serves.

“Our objective is to use the talents and the skill sets in the staff team to offer wider opportunities to every possible student,” he said, speaking by phone from the U.K. “It’s about being innovative and creative. In adding Jewish meaning, it’s not one size fits all.”

(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

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