World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life

Article Id: WHEBN0000913721
Reproduction Date:

Title: Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
Founded 1923 (1923) at UIUC, Illinois
Area served worldwide
Key people Eric D. Fingerhut (President and CEO)
Edgar M. Bronfman (former President)
Website .org.hillelwww

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life (simply known as Hillel International or Hillel) is the largest Hillel the Elder, a Jewish sage who moved from Babylonia to Judea in the 1st century and is known for his formulation of the Golden Rule.


Rutgers Hillel

The Hillel Foundation was founded in 1923 at the [3] An integral part of this shift was the institution of a Board of Governors, chaired by Edgar M. Bronfman until 2009 when he was succeeded by Randall Kaplan.[4]

Bronfman's involvement began in 1994 during a visit by Richard Joel to the Seagram building, when Bronfman pledged his support to an organization he thought had the potential to secure the future of vibrant Jewish life. When Bronfman agreed to serve as chairman of the Board of Governors, Hillel gained legitimacy among other philanthropists. The subsequent revitalization of the organization resulted in increased donor support, updated programming, and broad international recognition. Part of the increased donor support came as a result of Bronfman's well-known campus visits, beginning in 1994, that continued until his death in 2013.[5][6]

Today, Hillel is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world. Hillel foundations are found in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.[7]

Though the Foundation was not organized nationally until 1923, Texas A&M Hillel was founded in 1920.[8] At the time of its founding, Texas A&M University was named the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas.[9][10]

Hillel International Presidents and CEOs

  • Rabbi Benjamin Frankel (1925–1927)
  • Dr. Louis L. Mann (1928–1933)
  • Dr. Abram L. Sachar (1933–1947)
  • Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld (1947–1956)
  • Dr. Judah J. Shiapiro (1956–1959)
  • Rabbi Benjamin M. Kahn (1959–1971)
  • Rabbi Alfred Jospe (1971–1975)
  • Rabbi Norman Frimer (1975–1979)
  • Rabbi Oscar Groner (1979–1984)
  • Larry Moses (1984–1987)
  • Richard M. Joel (1988–2003)[11]
  • Avraham Infeld (2003–2005)
  • Wayne Firestone (2005–2013)[12]
  • Eric Fingerhut (2013–present)[13]


The Kent State chapter of Hillel observing Chanukah in the Student Center of the university

As Hillel is funded by donations, it is usually free for an interested student to participate in their activities. However, as set by International Hillel Policy, there are restrictions on the services, topics of discussions, and events that can be held.[14] These restrictions focus mainly on Zionism, where Hillel takes a firm stance in not promoting certain types of views on Israel, such as the [16] places service fellows at the campus foundations,[17] creates a guide to Jewish student life,[18] and leads advocacy work on Jewish and Israeli issues,[19] as well as providing some financial support to its campus foundations.

Hillel chapters regularly offer Shabbat services. Hillel is also dedicated to social activism, fundraising, and philanthropy for charitable causes. These activities are usually led on the local campus level, but many campuses participate in alternative spring break trips dedicated to service, a Yom Kippur Fast Action Campaign, and the Oxfam Fair Trade Coffee Campaign, as well as more traditional local service projects at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and Jewish community organizations.

Social justice

Since 2010, Hillel's campus initiative at the University of Washington, Freedom Shabbat, has highlighted the problem of modern-day slavery during the holiday of Passover, a time when Jews remember their escape from slavery in Egypt.[20][21]

Hillel also organizes alternative break trips for students across the globe, where students participate in short-term service projects dealing with a range of issues, from poverty to food justice. They have partnered with the non-profit organization City Year to create civic engagement spring breaks for students.[22]

Hillel Houses

Hillel Houses in the United Kingdom

As of July 2014, there are official Hillel Houses in the cities of Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Sheffield, and York.[23]

Hillel House in Birmingham is the largest and most active residential Hillel in the UK,[24] serving over 40 full-time residents and the base for Birmingham Jewish Society. The House provides kosher self-catering accommodation to students in Birmingham, and communal facilities (including a commercial kosher kitchen and 100+ capacity dining room) for Jewish groups and societies.[25] Rooms start from £2,860 per academic year, and there is a range of accommodation - including en-suite rooms.

Hillel House in Leeds is home to Leeds Jewish Society.[26] The Hillel Student Centre is the flagship Hillel run student house. It is fitted with plasma televisions, a shul which is home to the Leeds Student Minyan, as well as a quiet study area.[27] There is also a cafe where kosher lunch is served for students. The centre has been run for many years with dedication by Charles Ross, a Leeds resident. Although no longer residential, there are kosher student flats available at Universities in Leeds.[28]

Hillel Houses in Canada

As of November 2013, there are official Hillel Houses in the cities of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Calgary, Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Guelph, Ontario, Hamilton, Ontario, Kitchener, Ontario, Kingston, Ontario, London, Ontario, Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, Ontario, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. Each Hillel House serves one or more universities/colleges in the area.

Praise and awards

The Hillel Foundation has received numerous praise and awards over the years. One example is from March 2011, the Hillel Organization was a recipient of one of the first nine grants from the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund, a pilot program of the Jim Joseph, Righteous Persons, and [30]

Local branches and staff members that are part of the greater Hillel Organization are often recipients of both Jewish and non-denominational awards. As an example, in 2010, Bernard Steinberg, President and Director of Harvard Hillel received a 2010 Covenant Foundation Award for excellence in teaching.[31] In 2008, the University of Kansas Hillel was named "KU Student Organization of the Year" out of more than 500 student clubs for the second year in a row.[32] In 2007, Hillel at Virginia Tech received the University and Community Partnership Award for offering "students the means to explore and celebrate their Jewish identity in a dynamic and comfortable environment".[33]


Most of Hillel's activities differ little from other mainstream campus ministries or ethnic organizations. However, some of Hillel's policies, actions, and leaders have come under criticism. Hillel's use of the motto "Wherever we stand, we stand with Israel" has been criticized as alienating to Jewish students who are critical of Israeli policies, as well as attaching political ideology to an otherwise religious group.[34][35] At the same time, others have claimed that some Hillels are being used by pro-Palestinian activists to promote their own political goals.[36][Dead link]

A campaign called "Open Hillel" has been started at universities to discuss Hillel's pro-Israel stance.[37][38][39] In December 2013, [40][ In a statement from Swarthmore Hillel, “All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist." [41][42]

Hillel President and CEO Eric Fingerhut said that this was “not acceptable,” and that “anti-Zionists will not be permitted to speak using the Hillel name or under the Hillel roof, under any circumstances.” Hillel International’s rules prohibit Hillel campus chapters from hosting programs that include groups or individuals that “deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized boundaries; delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel,” or that support boycott, divestment or sanction campaigns against Israel. Harvard Hillel had barred Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Knesset, from speaking because Burg's talk was cosponsored by Harvard Palestinian Solidarity Committee. Hillel guidelines currently bar liberal Peter Beinart, who supports limited boycott of products produced on West Bank settlements; linguist Noam Chomsky, who supports a no-state solution, and Jewish philosopher Judith Butler, author of a radical critique of Zionism that rejects its moral legitimacy.[43]

In February, the Vassar Jewish Union, an affiliate of Hillel, joined Swarthmore Hillel in declaring themselves to be an Open Hillel, and Wesleyan College's Hillel followed suit. Alumni at the University of California Berkeley have also created a petition calling upon their school to do the same.[44] In response to Open Hillel, a group of students formed Safe Hillel in 2014 to preserve the pro-Israel agenda of the original Hillel organization. According to its founder Raphael Fils, “Hillel should not have to change its mission in order to accommodate those who don't agree with it. Hillel is the one place students are supposed to feel entirely comfortable in their support of Israel. If that makes some people uncomfortable, there are plenty of other places to go just to hear attacks on Israel.”[45][46]

Another criticism has been the donor-driven, and had hence compromised Judaic quality.

Former Hillel president Avraham Infeld was challenged in traditional circles for asserting that Hillel accepts intermarriage (marriage of Jews to non-Jews).[50]

There have also been some controversies involving individual Hillel directors.

  • UCLA Hillel rabbi and director Chaim Seidler-Feller was accused by journalist Rachel Neuwirth of verbally and physically assaulting her on the UCLA campus in October 2003. Eyewitness accounts were contradictory, with some indicating Neuwirth did not provoke the incident, but others indicating that she had.[51] After more than three years of litigation, in a legal settlement, Seidler-Feller provided Neuwirth with a letter of apology accepting full responsibility for the attack on Neuwirth and a large financial arrangement with her.[52]
  • [53] Fishman also orchestrated a group of Hillel members to read highly critical questions pre-drafted by Deborah Lipstadt as if they were their own to President Jimmy Carter who spoke on campus in March 2007. This and their tactics of blocking the microphones from other students gave the media the false impression that the audience was critical of Carter despite repeated standing ovations.[54]
  • Princeton University HIllel's executive director, Rabbi Julie Roth came under criticism from two Hillel student board members and other members for sending out a mass e-mail encouraging Hillel members to oppose a petition by tenured Princeton faculty members which called on the university to divest from companies that profit from the occupation of the West Bank by Israel. Thirty-eight Jewish Princeton students wrote an open letter criticizing the Center for Jewish Life, Princeton's Hillel, for acting as if the Center would automatically oppose the faculty's petition without debate. The students' letter, which appeared in the campus newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, also criticized Hillel International for prohibiting member chapters from hosting or engaging in discussion with groups or individuals who promote boycotting, divesting from or sanctioning Israel.[55]

Local Hillels

Hillel's Guide to Jewish Life at Colleges and Universities[56] provides information about Jewish life on campus at many different colleges, including a full listing of local Hillel chapters.

Local Hillels include:

See also


  1. ^ Hillel's mission statement on its "about" page
  2. ^ facts about Hillel from their own webpage
  3. ^ The Remaking of Hillel: A Case Study on Leadership and Organizational Transformation
  4. ^ "Jewish Learning Center course offers guidance for medical decision making". Retrieved Sep 28, 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "JLI Mission a Spiritual Exploration of Israel". Retrieved Sep 28, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Northbrook to Join Worldwide Release of Medicine and Morals". Retrieved Sep 28, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Kohelet Foundation Partners With Rohr JLI". Retrieved Sep 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ From Christian Science to Jewish Science: Spiritual Healing and American Jews Oxford University Press page 160
  10. ^ Gabrielle Birkner (2005-05-06). "A Cushy Fit In Bush Country".  
  11. ^ The Road to Renaissance. Hillel.
  12. ^ Leadership Profiles: Wayne Firestone
  13. ^ "Hillel taps Eric Fingerhut, former congressman, as new CEO & president". Haaretz. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Taglit-Birthright Israel: Hillel Trip
  17. ^ Careers with Hillel
  18. ^ Hillel's Guide to Jewish Life on Campus
  19. ^ "Home". Israel on Campus Coalition. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  20. ^ "This Friday: Celebrate The Third Annual Freedom Shabbat | Repair the World". 2012-04-11. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  21. ^ "About Freedom Shabbat – Freedom Shabbat". 2012-04-13. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  22. ^ "Hillel’s City Year Alternative Break this Spring Break!". Small And Mighty. 2011-01-21. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  23. ^ "UJS Hillel Foundation - Jewish Spaces". Retrieved July 2014. 
  24. ^ "UJS - What are Jewish Spaces". 
  25. ^ "Hillel House Birmingham". 
  26. ^ Leeds JSoc
  27. ^ "Hillel Student Centre". 
  28. ^ "Self-Catered Accommodation, Leeds University". 
  29. ^ Official Announcement
  30. ^ As quoted in "Forward"
  31. ^ Covenant Organization
  32. ^ Official Kansas University Hillel Webpage
  33. ^ Virginia Tech News
  34. ^ : "Was University of Richmond’s student Hillel leader fired for her political beliefs?"Jewish Week
  35. ^ Jewish student sacked for having mind of her own Alberta Arab News, June 10, 2004
  36. ^ "The Jewish Academy of Chelm: Hillel in America"
  37. ^ Pink, Aiden (November 2014). "‘Open Hillel’ Is a Much Bigger Problem Than You Think". The Tower. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  38. ^ "Home". Open Hillel. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  39. ^ Pluralism in Hillel must extend to Israel
  40. ^
  41. ^ Hillel warns Swarthmore chapter over rejection of Israel guidelines, JTA, Haaretz, December 29, 2013
  42. ^ Swarthmore Hillel rejects Hillel Israel guidelines, JTA, December 10, 2013
  43. ^ Hillel Threatens Its Swarthmore Chapter With Expulsion Over Israel Dispute; College Becomes First To Associate With 'Open Hillel' Movement, By Derek Kwait, Forward, December 20, 2013.
  44. ^ Berkeley Hillel Urged To Go 'Open' on Israel by Alumni, By Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, February 25, 2014.
  45. ^ ‘Safe Hillel’ Wants the Jewish Campus Group to be Safe for All, By Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Jewish Press, February 25, 2014.
  46. ^ Safe Hillel
  47. ^ New Voices: Lights Inactive - The death of a Jewish student organization
  48. ^ "Student Presidents Represent Hillel at WUJS Congress"
  49. ^ : "Hillel Incorporated: The Franchising of Modern American Jewry"Tikkun
  50. ^ Faith in Nathan: "Maybe we shouldn’t fight intermarriage after all"
  51. ^ "Seidler-Feller Denies Kicking Journalist"Jewish Journal:
  52. ^ "UCLA Hillel rabbi apologizes, settles 2003 case with woman journalist"Jewish Journal:
  53. ^ "Hillel director backs off accusations against student"Washington Jewish Week:
  54. ^ "Hillel Director Students Defend Tactics at Carter Speech"Jewish Daily Forward:
  55. ^ "Spencer Parts: Princeton Jewish Community Split Over Hillel Stand on Divestment Activists Object To Pro-Israel Pushback by Rabbi (Nov 20, 2014)"
  56. ^ "College Guide: Hillel's Guide to Jewish Life at Colleges and Universities". Retrieved 2014-09-28. 

External links

  • Official Hillel International Site—includes links to individual campuses
  • Hillel’s Guide to Jewish Life at Colleges and Universities - Hillel’s college guide offers information on Jewish life at colleges and universities around the world for current and prospective students.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.