Berkeley Hillel Prize

The Berkeley Hillel Prize: Berkeley Hillel’s 4th Annual Essay Competition

The Berkeley Hillel Prize is an essay competition open to college students enrolled at UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford and SF State.  All pieces are read by a group of UC Berkeley professors, peers and Hillel staff.  Essays are judged based on creativity,  quality of writing, and interest in the piece. Winners are awarded significant cash prizes.

Submissions should be under 500 words, and will be received on a rolling basis until March 11.

First Place: $2,500 

Second Place: $1,500 

Third Place: $1,000 

Prompt for 2022:

Prayer – תְפִלָה

How does or can ‘prayer’ play a role in your daily life? Please elaborate on the form and character of the act in your life.

The act of ‘praying’ is believed to play an essential role in human lives.
Prayer takes different forms according to individual needs—verbally or silently; privately or in the company of others; governed by a known text or uniquely personal.
The act of Praying is often verbalized in traditional wording and can be a way of meditating.
For some, God’s attention is the singular focus; for others, peacefulness or communal spirituality.

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
-Mary Oliver

How grateful I am to God that there is a duty to worship, a law to remind my distraught mind that it is time to think of God, time to disregard my ego for at least a moment! It is such happiness to belong to an order of the divine will. I am not always in a mood to pray. I do not always have the vision and the strength to say a word in the presence of God. But when I am weak, it is the law that gives me strength; when my vision is dim, it is duty that gives me insight.”
-Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel


Past  Year Entries

Read the 2022 Entries HERE

Read the 2021 Entries HERE

Read the 2020 Entries HERE

Read the 2019 Entries HERE

Thank you for inquiring about the Berkeley Hillel Prize. Unfortunately the deadline for submission has past. We hope you will submit a piece of work next year. Thank You