40 Under 40: Russ Shulkes
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40 Under 40: Russ Shulkes

Russ Shulkes, 39, is the executive director and campus chaplain at Hillels of Georgia

Rabbi Russ Shulkes has been the executive director and campus chaplain at Hillels of Georgia since 2012. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, he received ordination, as well as Master of Arts in both religious education and comparative religion.

Shulkes taught in Florida International University’s religion department for several years before beginning to work full-time for Hillel, first for three years in the U.K., and with Hillels of Georgia for the past eight.

“In my experience, college is the first opportunity for students to form their own identity and decide for themselves what’s important and what isn’t,” Shulkes said. “These four years are the most fundamental time to help form lasting identities and we want to make sure people stay connected to Judaism going forward.”

Shulkes sat on the executive board of the Atlanta Rabbinic Association for three years, and on Hillel International’s Talent Grant committee. He is a mentor for Hillel’s New Directors Mentoring Program, and is an educator for the Jewish Learning Fellowship.

At Hillels of Georgia, Shulkes has more than doubled both the staff size and the annual budget during his tenure. He has expanded pluralistic Jewish education on campus and dramatically increased Jewish engagement.

His support for Israel inspired him to create a BDS lecture series, and bring to campus The Florence Melton School Israel series, three Campus Israel Fellows from The Jewish Agency for Israel, the Onward Israel summer internship program, and Fact Finders Israel trips. He was awarded Ally of the Year by AIPAC in 2016.

Shulkes believes passionately that “we must all concern ourselves with the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.” Therefore, he has devoted his professional career to helping Jewish students to more strongly identify with the Jewish people and its struggles.

“I could not be prouder being both an active participant and catalyst for Jewish Atlanta,” he said. “Seeing it grow and thrive, I am certain that the groundwork we lay today will ensure that the Jewish people and Israel are better off tomorrow than today.”

Shulkes lives in Toco Hills with his wife Esther and their four kids.

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