web analytics
May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 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
What's happened to NYC's Celebrate Israel Parade?
Israel Rejects as ‘False’ UJA Federation’s Claims about Israel Parade ‘Inclusion’
Latest News Stories
FIFA logo

Israel praises FIFA for avoiding what Israel’s deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely called an “absurd situation.”

FIFA president Sepp (Joseph) Blatter and PM Binyamin Netanayhu

FIFA Pres. Sepp Blatter, 79, was re-elected to a fifth term heading the world soccer federation, despite bribery allegations.

PA's soccer chief Jibril Rajoub, a member of the Fatah Central Committee.

At the last minute before the proposal was to go to vote, Rajoub submitted an amendment that would cancel the bid to suspend Israel.

FIFA logo

Zurich police have confirmed there was a bomb threat to blow up the FIFA congress, but they have since allowed the annual convention to continue following a search.

Israeli Consul General refutes UJA president’s claim that government insists NIF march in Celebrate Israel parade.

They stopped Blatter from speaking, waved PA flags and demanded “Israel out.”

Reishit HaGez is the giving to the Kohen the first cuttings of the fleece of sheep grown in the Land of Israel (based on Deut. 18:4: “You are to give them the first fruits of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the first wool from the shearing of your sheep.”). Most Jews cannot […]

Postal officials refuse mailmen’s request to be relieved of the job to deliver Baptist cult material that may be illegal.

Final steps are underway for building the City of David’s “Kedem” visitor’s center in Jerusalem that will sit on top of the “Givati Parking Lot” excavation just outside of the Old City of Jerusalem’s walls. The visitor’s center will serve as an entryway to the Jerusalem Walls National Park, which includes the City of David […]

The Orthodox Union, B’nai Brith and the Houston Federation are pitching in.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared Sunday, May 31 as “Celebrate Israel Day,” when thousands of Israeli Americans, Jews and supporters of Israel are to attend the Celebrate Israel Boston Festival sponsored by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Israeli-American Council Boston Chapter. Gov. Baker noted that Israel remains “a tremendous partner, economically and culturally,” to […]

The “rabbi “may be a “reverend” who allegedly was not revered by Ice Cube’s bullies.

Israeli PM Netanyahu talks about his vision for regional cooperation with Arab nations.

Hadera drew the attention of El Paso officials for the city’s desert environment, a large electric power plant, desalination plant and manufacturing complex, and the high-tech incubation programs at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, located 30 miles away.

A day devoted to “peaceful co-existence” in Jerusalem was marred by Arab “anti-normalization” thugs.

At least a dozen people are reported to have been killed in the attack, and another 30 wounded.

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
What's happened to NYC's Celebrate Israel Parade?

Israeli Consul General refutes UJA president’s claim that government insists NIF march in Celebrate Israel parade.

Jerusalem Hug Day coexistence event was marred by violence. May 28, 2015.

A day devoted to “peaceful co-existence” in Jerusalem was marred by Arab “anti-normalization” thugs.

The Israeli Air Force responded to a rocket attack from Gaza by striking terrorist sites within the Strip.

This week ISIS captured two major cities, one in Iraq, one in Syria. Assad’s escape plan revealed.

Liberman apologizes for describing Netanyahu’s decision to meet with head of Arab Joint Party List as “autistic.”

Was the flub the result of the snub, or was Obama simply inadequately prepared for his meeting with the Saudi princes?

U.S. government documents reveal government knew within days terrorists were behind Benghazi attacks

Shaked: ‘ the judiciary, rather than the elected representatives of the people, wield the power to govern’

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: