web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Hillel CEO: You Can’t Use Our Name if You Reject Zionism

Hillel's new CEO sets the standard: Hillel's name carries benefits and responsibilities. To acquire the benefits you must accept the responsibilities.
Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of Hillel International

Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of Hillel International

Share Button

In a swift, decisive move, Eric Fingerhut, the new president and chief executive officer of Hillel International informed the head of Swarthmore College’s (former) Hillel just who is in the driver’s seat when it comes to making policy decisions. The Swarthmore chapter’s unanimous vote on Sunday, Dec. 8, to reject Hillel guidelines regarding Israel, means it cannot use the name Hillel.

“Let me be very clear – ‘anti-Zionists’ will not be permitted to speak using the Hillel name or under the Hillel roof, under any circumstances,” Fingerhut wrote, in response to Swarthmore Hillel’s resolution to reject the national Hillel guidelines. The Swarthmore resolution included this: “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.”

The Swarthmore student board’s unanimous decision to reject the national guidelines and instead become part of a movement known as “Open Hillel” is the first such vote at any campus.

The Open Hillel movement rejects any restrictions on speakers or partnerships with groups, including those which, under Hillel’s Israel guidelines, would be barred because they engage in “demonization, delegitimization or applying double standards to Israel,” or support the economic and legal warfare movement known as the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel.

But those in the Open Hillel movement still want to benefit from having the name recognition, the established campus presence and the money available to chapters of the Hillel Foundation. In fact, while the Swarthmore group boasted that all of its funding comes from a Swarthmore endowment, giving it financial independence from the Hillel Foundation, its website suggests that the independence is overstated.

Fingerhut made clear that he rejected any claim that his move restricts freedom of speech or freedom of association.

Hillel recognizes, of course, that “organizations, groups or speakers that as a matter of policy or practice” violate these guidelines may well be welcomed on campus, according to the policies of the particular college or university. The Hillel on campus, however, may not partner with or host such groups or speakers. This is entirely within our discretion as an organization, and we have clearly stated our intention to make these important decisions to protect our values and our critically important mission. Just as the university decides who will teach classes, and what organizations it will allow on campus, so Hillel will decide who will lead discussions in programs it sponsors and with whom it will partner.

Fingerhut also summarily disposed of the claim of Hillel-ier than thou that the Open Hillel movement likes to espouse. The Swarthmore group and others in the Open Hillel movement wave around its alleged mirroring of Rabbi Hillel, the namesake of the campus movement, who was a great teacher and leader who engaged in discussion with those with whom he disagreed.

“However,” said Fingerhut, “Rabbi Hillel is perhaps more famous for his saying in Pirkei Avot, ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me?’”

In closing, Fingerhut wrote of Hillel International being the true son of Rabbi Hillel:

We here at Hillel International hold firm to his legacy. We encourage debate and dissent, but we draw the line at hosting groups who would deny the right of the State of Israel to exist. We will stand with Israel, the democratic, open, pluralistic home of the Jewish people.

On that fundamental principle, we are unwavering.

The entire statement can be found at Fingerhut’s homepage.

The local Federation paper, the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, reveals that there are more details to be worked out.  It quotes what it refers to as the “Hillel of Greater Philadelphia’s staff person at Swarthmore, Rabbi Kelilah Miller,” who, presumably receives support, training, communications or other benefits from being affiliated with Hillel.  But Miller said she plans to “challenge the students to live up to the commitments they expressed in the resolution they adopted.”  In other words, she’s committed to ensuring the students continue to thumb their nose at Hillel’s guidelines.  Let’s hope she’s also committed to keeping her and their hands out of Hillel International’s pockets.

Share Button

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

111 Responses to “Hillel CEO: You Can’t Use Our Name if You Reject Zionism”

  1. Lynne Marton says:

    OMG!!!!!! I can't believe that these people at Swarthmore College would take such an Honourable and totally committed to Zionism Internationally known Organization and literally trash the very foundations it was built on!!!!! The quotation by Rabbi Hillel mentioned in here by CEO Eric Fingerghut “Rabbi Hillel is perhaps more famous for his saying in Pirkei Avot, ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me?’” says it all. Hillel is a Zionist Organization – if you aren't a Zionist, you don't belong in this Organization – and you can't change the rules to suit yourselves when it goes against the core principles of Hillel, and on top of that, to expect it to be accepted and reap the benefits of said organization! Please excuse all the exclamation marks – I am just shaking with anger!!

  2. i truly hope this is a shift back sanity, what we have been hearing from Hilel and the actions they have been committing it looked as if they're turning into another j-street …. please make this a good thing .

  3. Anonymous says:

    kol hakavod

  4. Robert Sidi says:

    Anti-Zionists and anti-Israelists have easy access to so many places on campus without Hillel having to give them another one.

  5. Thank you! You said it for all of us and Israel! And it had to be said.

  6. Lee Kaplan says:

    In 2003 at the Ohio State Palsolidarity Conference seminars were held on how to infiltrate Hillel. Fingerhut is the first Hillel leader to refuse to play the fool. May it continue.

  7. Chaiya Eitan says:

    Kol HaKavod, Mr Fingerhut!

  8. Chaiya Eitan says:

    Whoever typed: her’s and their hands – it is not her's – it's hers.

  9. so you can be against Shabbos, Kosher, Family Values, etc. they have self-identifying "openly gay" Hillel rabbis, you know, but on this issue, they are dogmatic, even though there are many valid Jewish sources that question or repudiate Zionism – really sad and wrong

  10. The values of Open Hillel, in providing moral support to those who want to kill Jews, are more similar to Heinrich Himmler than to Rabbi Hillel. The organization should be called Open Himmler

  11. here is a portion of a letter I sent to Rabbi Miller

    Thank you for your courage

    Dear Rabbi Miller,

    Shalom u'vrachah! I hope this message finds you well.

    I want to congratulate you on your courage to embrace true pluralism in your Rabbinical career. I am a strictly Orthodox, Hasidic Rabbi, but I accept the fact that we live in a pluralistic society, and embrace that fact, even though I strongly disagree with many of my neighbors and peers, I still support them. I find it quite hypocritical when I hear of selective pluralism – I can understand someone who is consistently a fundamentalist keeping to their views and eschewing others, although I find such an approach distasteful it is at least consistent. However, when a community embraces pluralism, how can one be selective in their pluralism? Anti-Zionism is a valid Jewish viewpoint, that is embraced in many sectors of the Orthodox, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Secular approaches to Judaism and/or Jewishness. Therefore, it is at least as valid as Zionism, and should be welcome as part of the free and open exchange of ideas in the Jewish community. Taking a dogmatic view on Zionism, while abandoning one on other fundamental practices and beliefs is rather hypocritical and intellectually dishonest. Furthermore, it alienates many progressive thinking and spiritually focused Jews from the Jewish community. This being said, I applaud your courage to stand up and allow an open forum for the free exchange of ideas, just as Benjamin Franklin did when he established the first institution of Higher Learning in Philadelphia, centuries in the past.

    With blessing and admiration of your courage,

    Rabbi Joseph Kolakowski

  12. here is a letter I sent to President Fingerhut:

    To the Honorable former Congressman Fingerhut, President of Hillel,

    Shalom u'vrachah! I hope this message finds you well.

    I want to express my confusion on the matter of Rabbi Kelilah Miller. I am a strictly Orthodox, Hasidic Rabbi, but I accept the fact that we live in a pluralistic society, and embrace that fact, even though I strongly disagree with many of my neighbors and peers, I still support them. I find it quite hypocritical when I hear of selective pluralism – I can understand someone who is consistently a fundamentalist keeping to their views and eschewing others, although I find such an approach distasteful it is at least consistent. However, when a community embraces pluralism, how can one be selective in their pluralism? Anti-Zionism is a valid Jewish viewpoint, that is embraced in many sectors of the Orthodox, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Secular approaches to Judaism and/or Jewishness. Therefore, it is at least as valid as Zionism, and should be welcome as part of the free and open exchange of ideas in the Jewish community. Taking a dogmatic view on Zionism, while abandoning one on other fundamental practices and beliefs; such as Sabbath, Kosher, Family Values, belief in the Resurrection or the coming of the Messiah; is rather hypocritical and intellectually dishonest. Furthermore, it alienates many progressive thinking and spiritually focused Jews from the Jewish community. How is it that openly gay Rabbis are welcome to serve as Hillel Rabbis, but those who question political Zionism are not welcome? I am not saying that the openly gay rabbis should be banned, but neither should anti-zionist or non-zionist rabbis. I find it ironic that this ban on the free exchange of ideas should take place in the vicinity of Philadelphia, as when Benjamin Franklin established the first institution of Higher Learning in Philadelphia, centuries in the past, he based it on the fundamental of the free exchange of ideas and philosophies. Dogmatism is eschewed by so many portions of the Jewish community that Hillel warmly and rightly embraces, yet a dogmatic approach is taken when it comes to Zionism. I am respectfully curious as to why this is.

    With respect and genuine curiosity, I write sincerely and with blessing and Ahavath Yisrael,

    Rabbi Joseph Kolakowski

  13. Yavi Ore says:

    I left university because Hillel refused to help me when I complained that nearly all my political sciences and sociology classes were antisemitic in nature. Hillel did not help in my time of need and I found out that that same year they were inviting Norman Finkelstein to speak!

  14. Yavi Ore says:

    Thanks for nothing, Hillel @ U of T.

  15. Yavi Ore says:

    Shut up. No one cares what you are writing. You are a left wing hack. They can turn on CNN and listen to an identical voice to yours, Christiane Amanpour's.

  16. Yavi Ore says:

    Shut the **** up. You sound like a ******. Really, go jump off a bridge. You are no Jew. You subscribe to the religion of the Left. Stop calling yourself a rabbi. You are a waste of life.

  17. Bravo to Fingerhut and national Hillel! At the same time, these Swarthmore Hillel students actually make the national Hillel look
    stronger on Israel than they are. In fact, The national Hillel, to my knowledge, has
    never ever attempted to educate Jewish students about the true nature of
    the conflict over Israel, namely, Islamic anti-Semitism.The fact is
    that the fundamental religious doctrines of Islam, as set for in the
    Koran and the sayings of Muhammad, call for war against the Jews in
    order to either subjugate them or kill them.

    Here is what Islam's god says: "Fight against those to whom the Scriptures were given [i.e. Jews and Christians]… until they pay tribute out of hand and are
    utterly subdued." Koran 9:29

    Here is what Islam's prophet said: "You (i.e. Muslims) will fight with the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, '0 'Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.' ”
    This is part of the Hamas Charter.

    The conflict over Israel is NOT a territorial conflict which can be resolved by drawing new lines on old maps. It is NOT a "Palestinian-Israeli" conflict which can be resolved by some sort of peace with the "Palestinians". It is not even
    an "Arab-Israeli" conflict. Iran is Israel's deadliest enemy, and Iran
    (that is, The Islamic Republic of Iran) is not even Arab, let alone
    "Palestinian".

    Not a single Moslem-majority country, including the PLO, recognizes Israel's right to exist. We are dealing with an Islamic holy war against the Jews, and Hillel has never even attempted to explain this to Jewish students.

  18. it is about time that someone stood up to the insane liberal Jewish philosophy of helping our enemies to destroy us. Let anti-Semites and anti-Zionists exercise their freedom of speech (within constitutional parameters) in their forums not ours. Hillary is to be commended for not following the example of the 92nd Street Y.

  19. I am a registered Republican and very right-wing – a fan of Glenn Beck, etc. – but I am only pointing out the hypocrisy of a liberal group like Hillel being selectively tolerant – I could understand if Hillel didn't accept self-identifying "openly-gay" "rabbis", but why do they chose this as the line?

  20. Edward Lobel says:

    While I strongly agree with the CEO, I think you have gone a little over board in your agreement and name calling. I am very liberal and resent your thinking that liberal are destroying us!

  21. Edward Lobel says:

    Yavi Ore If the U of T is texas or tennessee I can understand your frustration. Both of my brothers went to the U of Texsas (at Austin) and my youngre brother ran into some serious anti-Semetic probles.

  22. Yavi Ore says:

    Rabbi Joseph Kolakowski Because they are a Zionist organization!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Edward Lobel says:

    Yavi Ore I guess no university education will ever help a bigot like you.
    You are full of hatred and need to understand that just because you say something doesn't make it correct.

  24. Edward Lobel says:

    Rabbi Joseph Kolakowski No matter how wrong you are you are entitled to you opinion. I used to watch Glen Beck until I realized that almost all the things he was using as facts, were facts he made up. This is very common in politics, but is the mainstay of fox and all it's contributors. Several times when I respond telling contributors that the facts they are believing are not the real facts, I often get back responses quoting ultra right wing sources, which cannot be trusted to tell you the truth. I then quote the source of my facts which is not from left wing sources (such as MSMBC) but places like fact check, snoops, and other non partisan sights. The wind up is, I never get any additional responses as I believe they know they are incorrect and refuse to give up their wrong ideas!

  25. David Groen says:

    We need more people like this

  26. TO USE A HEBREW WORD"AMEN"!

  27. Yavi Ore – I thought they were a Jewish organization – this came up before when Hillel threw out a student president at University of Richmond some years back when she said "I thought Hillel was a Jewish organization, not only a Zionist organization" – sure it is their right to do so as you say, but they are cutting off their nose to spite their face because they are alienating a lot of Jewish Students who would enjoy coming to minyan or something but have a different view on Zionism

  28. Yavi Ore says:

    Edward Lobel Toronto, Canada

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Ukraine Shul Firebombed
Ukrainian Synagogue Firebombed (Video)
Latest News Stories

Rav Bina, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh has sent the following letter out to alumni of the Yeshiva: Dear Alumni, This Wednesday one of my grandchildren will be undergoing crucial surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his leg. I ask all of you to please recite tehillim for him during the surgery, […]

Naftali Bennett speaking in the Knesset

PA president Abbas, who is about 9 years late for democratic elections, has threatened to dismantle the PA and annul the Oslo Accords. Sounds good to us…

Hamas supporters marching on the Temple Mount, waving Hamas flags.

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and his family’s visit to the Temple Mount was cut short when violent rioting once again broke out on the holy site.

Ukraine Shul Firebombed

Anti-semitic attacks have escalated with the firebombing of a synagogue in the Ukraine. Watch the video of the attack…

A surprised group of hikers stumbled across human bones in a Gush Etzion cave. But what they actually found was even more astounding.

Many Pakistanis consider bin Laden a “hero of Islam.”

Two major obstacles have kept Israel from joining the program: Allegations by U.S. officials that Israel has discriminated against Arab- and Muslim-Americans seeking entry, and a proliferation of young Israelis traveling to the United States as tourists and then working illegally.

A Lebanese man who was arrested in Thailand on suspicion of belonging to Hezbollah admitted to targeting Israelis, Thai media reported.

On Friday afternoon, Syrian fighter jets hit opposition/rebel targets and villages on the Syrian side of the Ramat HaGolan (Golan Heights), in the Quneitra region. Large pillars of smoke are seen rising from struck areas. Quneitra is the site of an official crossing between Syria and Israel on the Golan. IAF jets were sent out […]

As Rabbi Stav said, “You’re free to think what you want. But do you want me to recognize Chelsea Clinton’s child as a Jew?”

Chimpanzees and Orangutans eat Matza, unleavened bread traditionally eaten during the Passover holiday, at the Ramat Gan Safari on Thursday, April 17, 2014. I hope they can digest it. On Passover no leavened bread (Chametz) is allowed in Jewish possession, and that includes food we feed our animals.

Following intelligence reports of further expected Arab rioting and violence on the Temple Mount today, the police have placed restrictions on Muslim entry to the Jewish holy site, according to a report on Arutz-7. Entry will be limited to Muslims over the age of 50, and women, also they must be Israeli citizens or residency […]

PA President Abbas’s refusal to publicly condemn the terror attack that killed Baruch Mizrachi is putting a damper on the parade.

The Shas political party, founded and run by the late Rav Ovadia Yosef, has a appointed a new spiritual leader, according to a Galei Tzahal report. The rabbi chosen to replace Harav Ovadia and be the new president of the party’s Council of Torah Sages is Rabbi Shalom Cohen. Aryeh Deri is the political leader […]

In 1941, the Jews of Kiev received a similar leaflet. When they showed up the next day, more than 34,000 were murdered.

Teen stabbed in South Florida high school.

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden

Many Pakistanis consider bin Laden a “hero of Islam.”

Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukraine, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.

In 1941, the Jews of Kiev received a similar leaflet. When they showed up the next day, more than 34,000 were murdered.

Teen stabbed in South Florida high school.

Ron Pundak was involved in many leftist “peace” initiatives. Pundak died on Friday.

Another failed anti-Israel Divestment measure. This one at Cornell University.

The US may pretend it was forced to give up Pollard, but it is US that most wants to continue talks.

Hirsi Ali’s critics wanted her silenced; Brandeis granted their wish.

Brandeis buckled to those who embrace diversity and tolerance only of their own views.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/hillel-ceo-you-cant-use-our-name-if-you-reject-zionism/2013/12/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: