Twin ZBTs at home with Hillel
Fraternal twins, ZBT brothers and now brothers in arms (so to speak) – the Kodner twins from ZBT’s Omega Chapter at the University of Missouri embody what it means to be a Jewish brother of ZBT on campus today.
Jordan E. Kodner, 2018, and Paul S. Kodner, 2018, both are loving their work for Hillel since starting new roles with the organization earlier this year.
“We love where we are. We may not have gotten these jobs without being involved in Hillel” as undergraduate brothers, Jordan said.
The Kodners were two of the first three men who signed on to restart Zeta Beta Tau at the University of Missouri in 2014-2015. They met the third original founder, Jason K. Peiser, 2018 … you guessed it … at Hillel.
“It was our first day on campus,” Paul said. “We met Jason at Shabbat. After a few meetings with ZBT staff, we three went back to my dorm, sat down and said, ‘Are we going to do this? … Yep!’”
The Omega Founding Father and Charter Brother classes reached great heights, growing the Chapter to more than 70 men and earning their charter in less than two years. The Chapter remains strong today, thanks to hard-working alumni, young and old.
The Kodners attribute this stability to the guidance of the late Brother Jerome (Jerry) A. Sigoloff, 1965, who passed into the Chapter Eternal in 2019.
“Jerry was our brother, father, and crazy uncle at times. He taught us what it means to be a Brotherhood for a Lifetime,” Paul said.
Jordan said one of his greatest brotherhood memories is from Brother Sigoloff’s funeral, where the Omega gathered brothers to sing The Fraternity Song.
The Kodners grew up in the St. Louis area. They are regular Jewish summer campers – still. Both Kodners work at their home camp as staff leaders now.
“Working in the Jewish world wasn’t something we were looking at initially,” Jordan said. “We attended Camp Ben Frankel for 15 years and were involved in several other Jewish youth organizations. Working at Hillel just kind of fit.”
Jordan, a photography major, was working at jewelry store earlier in summer 2021 when his father saw an ad for a director of Jewish student life position at Mizzou Hillel on jewishjobs.com. Jordan recalls responding with astonishment that such a perfect role was open. He called his friend, Rabbi Jeanne Snodgrass, to discuss, and ultimately ended up being the perfect fit. He started with the fall semester.
Paul, a political science and history major, wanted to be an attorney since second grade. He started law school after graduating and was working as a legal assistant when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“I started to lose the love and passion I had for law. I was going through the motions. I decided law school was not where I wanted to be anymore,” he said. Another successful posting on jewishjobs.com later, and Paul is now the Engagement Director at IU Hillel for Indiana University in Bloomington.
The new jobs are a great fit for the brothers. They both share how much they love working with Jewish students in a campus environment, and how lucky they feel to still be engaging with ZBT brothers.
“Jewish values fit right in with Brotherhood for a Lifetime,” Jordan said.
“You will never have the same experience being in ZBT at a university [or college] as you do anywhere else in your life,” Paul said.
They have advice for brothers seeking to engage with their Jewish community and those with interest in careers in the space:
- Jordan: “Meet people. We met all these people at Hillel – we used Hillel as our ZBT house before we had a house! Expand your network.”
- Paul: “Get involved on campus. Do something with your time, yes, the Fraternity, but also clubs and sports and Jewish events.”
- Jordan: “Non-Jewish brothers are very welcome at Hillel. We always made sure non-Jews knew they could come to Hillel. We didn’t expect them to be Jewish, but they need to understand and respect the culture.”
- Paul, who was Mizzou Chabad president for all four of his undergraduate years: “Our non-Jewish brothers love coming to Passover seder and building the sukkah at Sukkot. You can just use it to focus on learning about Judaism or it can be a service aspect” (like building the sukkah).
- Paul: “Create a good connection with alumni. You never know when you’re going to make that one connection that helps get you a job or benefits the chapter. Jerry (Sigoloff) gave us a passion for the Fraternity.”
- Jordan: “Learn from everyone. Do what you love. If you’re doing a job that you only do for the money, you may not love your life.”