Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hillel Jewish Campus Org Opens Doors to Gentiles


This is clearly the death of a dying Jewish Organization. Why is it dying when every other Jewish organization is growing? Because Hillel refuses to recognize the religious life of Jews. It wants to “do Jewish” as in eat bagels and watch Jewish movies, or have Matza Balls, or have a Purim Party.

They don’t want to “do Jewish” as in standing up for Israel, pushing for Jewish rights on campus, providing places for Minyanim, making a Kosher Shabbat, etc. During Richard Joel’s reign, this stuff was starting to happen, but after he left, Hillel lost itself to secular Jewish values and they lost their population.

There are young Jews hungry for a Jewish life on campus, but they are finding off-campus Chabad programs a lot more in line with their needs than the secular, non-political, non-Zionistic Hillel houses.

If Hillel wants to save itself, it better find out the secret to “Doing Jewish” is Judaism.


( According to a report by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Hillel organization, which runs the central Jewish facilities on most campuses in North America, has decided to open its doors to gentiles and downplay its Jewish identity. Hillel leaders told the JTA that the move "has been forced upon them by this generation's altered social landscape."

According to the report, "the organization is throwing open its doors to everyone, designing programs that appeal to Jews and non-Jews and hyping its contribution to university -- not only Jewish – life." Reportedly, more and more non-Jews are serving on Hillel boards. Whereas the group's mission statement before 2006 was to increase the number of Jews "doing Jewish with other Jews," it now seeks to "enrich" Jewish student life, the Jewish people and the world.

"Most of the students that we have are not interested in doing Jewish with other Jews," a Hillel campus head told JTA. "They're interested in doing Jewish with their friends who are doing Catholic and Puerto Rican and Turkish -- their friends and their family. The challenge for us is how do you create expressions of Jewish life that students will deem to be authentic at the same time as they are not exclusive or tribal."

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