web analytics
March 30, 2015 / 10 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Will New Hillel Head Honcho Continue Stretching the ‘Big Tent’?

Over the decades, Hillel has moved from being "the synagogue on campus" to encouraging Jewish students to "experience and define Jewish" in their own way. Is Hillel now also telling students "pro-Israel" means whatever they want it to mean?
Hillel will be replacing its CEO this summer. Will the big tent philosophy stretch so far its Jewish and pro-Israel values become meaningless?

Hillel will be replacing its CEO this summer. Will the big tent philosophy stretch so far its Jewish and pro-Israel values become meaningless?

The desk where the buck will stop at Hillel headquarters is about to get a new occupant.  There are those who worry that a recent, perhaps accelerating Hillel trend towards allowing everyone “in the tent” will come to mean that there are no standards at all.

Hillel: the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, serves Jewish students in more than 500 universities worldwide, the vast majority of which are in the United States. The annual operating budget is just under $90 million.

But while Hillel is “the largest Jewish campus and community-based organization in the world serving the college-age population,” some wonder whether the orientation which is increasingly about “self-authorship” regarding Jewish practice, is likewise so open-ended about support for Israel that the words mean very little.

For instance, in the last year, the venomously anti-Israel group “Breaking the Silence”, an organization which exists solely to demonize the Israel Defense Forces, has been welcomed into Hillel, the Jewish communal home on campus.  And this didn’t only happen on the west coast University of California at Berkeley, as suggested in an article by JNS.com reprinted in EJewishPhilanthropy.org.

The University of Pennsylvania Hillel also hosted a speaker from Breaking the Silence this spring. According to those involved, the issue was put to a vote of the board of the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia, and the majority chose to host the group.

Breaking the Silence isn’t just any anti-Israel organization.  Last month the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, Capt. Barak Raz, exasperated by the organization’s continuous pummeling of the IDF, while it nonetheless refused to engage with the IDF in order to make changes. In an interview with Tazpit News, Raz explained that the IDF has standing orders, regulations, and an ethical code that soldiers must abide by.

“These not only require soldiers to act according to the law, but also to report instances when things were otherwise,” he writes. “Instead of taking responsibility for their mistakes, these soldiers simply blame the army for what they did wrong,” he told Tazpit News Agency.

Furthermore, Raz continues, “the information used by Breaking the Silence by and large seems to derive from two sources – unverifiable hearsay or accounts from anonymous former soldiers who, sometimes, they themselves deserve to be behind bars in military prison for what they did!”

Natan Nestel is the former chairman of the Israeli Students Organization in North America.  Nestel has spent the past several years making a documentary about Hillels, and he is greatly disturbed by what he has found.

Nestel told JNS.org that groups that demonize Israel should be outside of the ‘big tent’ on campus.

“Nominally Jewish groups, including those who assist anti-Israel groups and speakers to come to campuses, should not be included [in the tent],” Nestel said. Nestel cited the self-labeled “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group J Street, which he said sponsored the appearance at Berkeley of Breaking the Silence, an Israeli group that defames the Israeli army for “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” “ethnic cleansing” and “violations of human rights.”

In the statement issued by the entity engaged to conduct the search for the next Hillel leader, a frank admission is made about the shift in orientation regarding how Hillel sees itself in relationship to being a Jewish institution on campus,

Over the decades, Hillel’s approach to education and engagement has evolved. Once seen as the “synagogue on campus,” Hillel today encourages students to take ownership of their Jewish experience and define “Jewish” in their own way. The destination of their Jewish journey is up to the student – Hillel provides the resources.

Is what the Hillels are doing just another attempt to define “pro-Israel” in their own way?  As Nestel points out,

J Street is already entrenched at Berkeley’s Hillel and the JSU (Jewish Student Union),” Nestel wrote. “The Hillel group, Kesher Enoshi (KE), is its proxy there. This year KE, along with J Street U, brought the founder of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement in to speak at Hillel. He demonized Israel, proclaiming, ‘Jerusalem is a symbol of evil.’ Berkeley’s Hillel director argued that this was ‘within the framework of national Hillel’s Israel policy.’

A professional search firm, Spencer Stuart Executive Search, was hired by Hillel in January.  An internal search committee was announced in February.

In April, the search firm announced that nearly 325 individuals had been identified as potential candidates, and that more than 200 people had been contacted by the committee.

Initial predictions were that the new Hillel leader would assume the position in June.  That timeline was recently revised, and it is now anticipated that the new Hillel CEO will be announced at the 2013 annual gathering known as the Hillel Institute, which will take place on July 29, at Washington University in St. Louis.

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. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

4 Responses to “Will New Hillel Head Honcho Continue Stretching the ‘Big Tent’?”

  1. Steve Forty-Seven says:

    Anyone who thinks you're going to get a medal for blowing the whistle in this or any OTHER army is an idiot….

  2. If readers of the Jewish Press learn enough from this article to stop funding this nonsense, that will be a step in the right direction. All the Jews are doing who give money to Hillel, thinking they're advancing the cause of Judaism and Zionism on campus, is buying ammunition for our enemies to use. On us.

  3. I stopped supporting Hillel years ago because of this. Instead I support Chabad. They truly support Jewish students on campuses. I suggest you do the same.

  4. I stopped supporting Hillel years ago because of this. Instead I support Chabad. They truly support Jewish students on campuses. I suggest you do the same.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
One-third of polled Republicans see President Obama as the biggest imminent threat to the USA.
One-Third of GOP Voters See Obama Worse for US than Assad and Putin
Latest News Stories
One-third of polled Republicans see President Obama as the biggest imminent threat to the USA.

A Reuters poll shows that America is increasingly polarized, especially about President Obama.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continued to lash out at a possible “bad deal” with Iran Monday and said, “The agreement being formulated in Lausanne sends a message that there is no price for aggression and on the contrary – that Iran’s aggression is to be rewarded.” Netanyahu said in a statement: The moderate and responsible […]

Jerusalem resident and Israeli citizen Khalil Adal Khalil arrested for joining the ISIS.

Release of a gag order reveals that the Israeli citizen and a friend traveled to Syria last year.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.

Lausanne has become the center stage of act that would put the world’s best novelist or Broadway producer to shame.

Inspections of Iranian nuclear sites won’t uncover possible nuclear activity in North Korea, or even China.

Colel Chabad and IFCJ have made sure thousands of Israelis will celebrate Passover with good food this year.

Former Secy of State Hillary Clinton says she wants to see US-Israeli relations on a “constructive footing” and Israel negotiating with the PA.

A rocket launched from Gaza landed in the Sinai, in the Egyptian half of the town of Rafiach (Rafah).

Rami Levi’s operating and net profit suffered from a 12% increase in the costs of selling, marketing, general and administrative expenses.

Matzah baking isn’t all just hard work. Sometimes it can be fun too.

Today on the Hebrew calendar is the 10th of Nisan – the day the People of Israel crossed into their new Land.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert found guilty of fraud and breach of trust in a retrial in the ‘Talansky Affair.’

Iran suddenly refuses to transfer its already enriched uranium, despite prior agreement.

The PA chose practical self interest (survival) and is backing down from its unilateral threats.

A man makes his cooking pots kosher for Passover by dipping them into boiling water, in a process called Hagala.

Israel’s Government Building Becomes ‘Greenest Parliament’ in the World

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi

Iran suddenly refuses to transfer its already enriched uranium, despite prior agreement.

Iran's nuclear enrichment facility at Fordow is in an underground bunker.

Congress is ‘fed up’ with being left in the dark on the Iran negotiations

Saudi Arabia began airstrikes on neighboring Yemen which has been taken over by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Obama says Bibi has to prove he supports a “two-state solution.”

Obama’s Chief of Staff chides Netanyahu at the J Street Conference for refusing to embrace fantasy as reality.

A Cruz presidency as antidote to Obama: repeal Obamacare, dismantle the IRS, strong support for Israel.

The anti-Bibi campaign’s quiet change in tax status both came too late and constitutes an admission of wrongdoing.

V15 is barred from attempting to achieve its stated goals: defeat Bibi and create a Palestinian State.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/will-new-hillel-head-honcho-continue-stretching-the-big-tent/2013/07/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: