Recent News and Updates

Hillel International has announced that they will be creating a student cabinet to represent students' interests and concerns within Hillel International! Although this does not change Hillel International's restrictive policies on Israel- Palestine, we are glad to see that the organization will be working harder to include student voices. Check out Open Hillel's statement in response.
BREAKING NEWS: Congratulations to the Wesleyan Jewish Community — the third local Hillel-affiliate to declare that it will no longer follow Hillel International's restrictive Standards of Partnership! We're happy to welcome WJC into the Open Hillel community. If you are a Wesleyan student or alum, sign on in support of the WJC leaders' statement here!
The Open Hillel campaign now has a formal leadership structure! Congratulations to Rachel, Emily, Amelia, Naomi, Justin, Lex, Aryeh, and Nancy, the new Open Hillel steering commitee!
Judith Butler's talk on Franz Kafka, planned to be held at the Jewish Museum in New York, was just canceled due to Butler's pro-BDS views. Although Butler's talk was to be on Kafka's existentialist philosophy — a subject completely unrelated to Israel-Palestine — she was pressured to withdraw because of her political views.
Students at Ramaz, a Modern Orthodox high school in New York City, invited Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi to speak at their school so that they could hear a Palestinian perspective — but administrators forbade them from hosting the talk. Now the students have launched a petition calling for administrators to allow Khalidi to speak. Kudos to the students at Ramaz for standing up for open dialogue on Israel-Palestine in their Jewish learning community!
BREAKING NEWS: Vassar Jewish Union has declared itself an Open Hillel, saying "As an Open Hillel, the Vassar Jewish Union will not endorse any particular political view. The Vassar Jewish Union will not exclude organizations, groups, speakers, individuals, or events on the basis of political opinion. Rather, we seek to represent the diverse views held by our members and to provide a space for meaningful and respectful debate and discussion." There are now two Open Hillels in the world — may there be many more to come!
UC Berkeley alumni have published an open letter calling for UC Berkeley to become an Open Hillel! Read it here, and if you're a UC Berkeley alum, sign it here!
Liberal Zionist author and Jewish educator David Harris-Gersohn has now been banned from speaking at the DC JCC, because he believes that boycotts, divestment, and sanctions are a legitimate form of non-violent protest. Open Hillel is saddened to hear that members of the Jewish community are being banned from any of our pluralistic Jewish organizations because of their political views on Israel, and opposes this decision by the DC JCC.
In a talk at UCLA, Eric Fingerhut declares that the current Standards for Partnership need to be "updated and modernized." Read our statement applauding his call to review these policies and asking that a large, diverse set of students be included in the decision-making process.
We are saddened to hear that author and Jewish educator David Harris-Gershon has been banned from speaking in Santa Barbara Hillel, despite having published a statement of his support for Zionism.
Author and Jewish educator David Harris-Gershon is required to publish a statement asserting his Zionist views in order to be allowed to speak in Santa Barbara Hillel. Is this what we want in our Jewish communities -- a loyalty oath to Israel for every speaker permitted inside our building?
Sign up for the weekly Open Hillel news blast to keep updated on the latest press coverage and campaign updates from Open Hillel!
Check out our new Ten Reasons to Support Open Hillel!
12/23/13 — Video from The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish Daily Forward reports that Swarthmore Hillel's first Shabbat dinner post-Open-Hillel-resolution was one of the best-attended Shabbat dinners of the entire year — even though it was the night before finals! When all students feel welcome in Hillel and empowered to build their own community's policies, investment and involvement skyrocket.
Now you can easily e-mail Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut to tell him that you support Swarthmore Hillel and the Open Hillel campaign — directly from our website! Customize our sample letter or write your own letter here.
Support Open Hillel? Already signed the petitions, and want to know what else you can do? Submit a testimonial on the Open Hillel tumblr!
The petition in support of Swarthmore Hillel has passed 1,000 signatures! It's amazing to see such a strong outpouring of support -- thank you all so much for standing up for the first-ever Open Hillel.
We've passed 1,000 signatures on the Open Hillel petition, and in less than one day over 500 people have signed the new petition in support of Swarthmore Hillel! Thank you all so much for your support, and let's keep spreading the word!
Show your support for Swarthmore Hillel! Already, Swarthmore Hillel has come under attack for declaring itself the first-ever Open Hillel. Sign our new petition to tell Hillel CEO Eric Fingerhut that you stand with Swarthmore Hillel!
Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut responds to Swarthmore Hillel's decision to become an Open Hillel, insisting that they must abide by Hillel International's rules. Apparently the "guidelines" aren't actually guidelines after all. Read Fingerhut's response here, and comment to let him know that you support Swarthmore Hillel and the Open Hillel movement!
FANTASTIC NEWS: Swarthmore Hillel becomes the first Hillel in the world to officially declare itself an Open Hillel, despite Hillel International's guidelines! This beautiful resolution passed their Hillel student board unanimously, demonstrating the strong support among young American Jews for more open dialogue in our community. Congratulations to Swarthmore Hillel, and to the fantastic student activists who made this happen!
Open Hillel condemns Hillel International's new plan to partner with AIPAC: "AIPAC deserves a place within Hillel, as one of many voices on Israel-Palestine. However, given AIPAC's specific and narrow policy agenda, it should not define what it means to be 'pro-Israel.' Even more fundamentally, no political advocacy organization should set the boundaries of what is encouraged, acceptable, and forbidden within the Jewish community on campus; and we worry that this partnership means that AIPAC will be asked to do so." Read more here!
Former Israeli Knesset Member, Avraham Burg, is prevented from speaking at Harvard Hillel. Although the event was co-sponsored by multiple Hillel-affiliated groups — Harvard Students for Israel, Harvard J Street U, and Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance — it was also co-sponsored by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee, so the event was not permitted to be held in Hillel. Open Hillel commends the Jewish and Palestinian student groups for working together on the event despite Hillel's restrictions, and calls on Harvard Hillel to reform its policies to allow wonderful events like this one to take place in its building in the future.
Open Hillel holds its first national campaign meeting in Washington, D.C.!
Hillel International announces its new President and CEO, Eric Fingerhut. In a video statement, Fingerhut says that he plans to uphold the inclusive values of Hillel the Elder, the sage after whom Hillel International was named. Let's hold him to that principle, and continue calling for an Open Hillel.
Great news -- J Street U student leaders endorse the Open Hillel campaign! Check out their op-ed here.
Open Hillel now has a tumblr to replace our old testimonials page! Visit the tumblr and submit your own testimonials in video, picture, or text form!
The Open Hillel campaign has presented a letter, along with the petition signatures, to the board of Hillel International. Read our letter here!
The petition to Hillel International has reached 750 signatures. Let's keep it up and get to 1,000!
Check out our new facebook campaign and help spread the word about Open Hillel! Repost the image or make it your profile picture to tell your friends you've signed the petition and ask them to sign on too.
The petition to Hillel International has reached 500 signatures! Thank you all for your support, and keep spreading the word!
Open Hillel now has a Facebook page! Like us here:
Our official campaign launch is today! Spread the word and send the petition to your friends.
Our new website is now live at!
Our first school-specific petition is now online! Check out Open Harvard Hillel and sign the petition.
More evidence that we need to change Hillel International's guidelines: a Hillel student leader at Binghamton University was just asked to resign because he brought a pro-BDS speaker to campus under the auspices of a non-Hillel-affiliated group. This is one of the most extreme applications of Hillel's policy yet — restricting Hillel students' actions not only within the Hillel building, but also in their private lives.
The Open Hillel petition and website are now live!
Open Hillel now has an e-mail list! You can sign up here.
Open Hillel campaign launched with PJA's Open Letter to the Hillel Community.

In the Media

Ha'aretz: Vassar Jewish Union declares itself an 'Open Hillel'

The JTA article has been republished in Ha'aretz!

"'As an Open Hillel, the Vassar Jewish Union will not endorse any particular political view. The Vassar Jewish Union will not exclude organizations, groups, speakers, individuals, or events on the basis of political opinion. Rather, we seek to represent the diverse views held by our members and to provide a space for meaningful and respectful debate and discussion. This position is in accordance with our desire to enrich our political, spiritual, and cultural lives at Vassar through free and open discourse,' the statement concluded..."

Jewish News Service: Vassar College Jewish Union breaks from Hillel's Israel guidelines

"The Vassar College Jewish Union officially called itself an 'Open Hillel' on Tuesday, disassociating itself from the Jewish campus umbrella's guidelines on Israel. The Hillel International-affiliated institution is the second campus organization to do so, following Swarthmore Hillel.

Hillel's official guidelines state that the organization will not 'partner with, house or host organizations, groups or speakers that delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel.' The "Open Hillel" campaign was recently founded by students who say they feel excluded from Hillel because they believe their criticism of Israel is not accepted..."

The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish Daily Forward: Vassar Jewish Students Break With Hillel on Israel

"The Vassar Jewish Union (VJU) declared itself an 'Open Hillel' on Tuesday, becoming the second Hillel-affiliated organization to break from Hillel International over the parent group's Israel guidelines.

Swarthmore Hillel had voted in December to reject the guidelines, which prohibit campus Hillels from partnering with clubs or hosting speakers who 'delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel' or deny its right to exist. The guidelines also bar cooperation with anyone supporting boycotts, divestment, or sanctions against the Jewish state.

'We believe that Hillel International's goal to "inspire every Jewish college student to develop a meaningful and enduring relationship to Israel" does not represent the diverse opinions of young American Jews,' the Vassar Jewish Union said in a statement announcing it would no longer abide by the Hillel guidelines. 'We believe that fostering a pluralistic community and supporting all Jewish life on campus cannot be achieved with Hillel International's Israel Guidelines in place.'..."

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Vassar Jewish Union declares itself an 'Open Hillel'

"Vassar College's Jewish Union declared itself an 'Open Hillel,' repudiating international Hillel guidelines rejecting partnerships with groups deemed hostile toward Israel.

The Vassar Jewish Union, a Hillel-affiliated student group, made the announcement Tuesday on its website...

...'We believe that this policy censors and delegitimizes the diverse range of personal and political opinions held by Jewish students,' the Vassar Jewish Union said in its statement. 'We believe that fostering a pluralistic community and supporting all Jewish life on campus cannot be achieved with Hillel International's Israel Guidelines in place,' the statement also said..."

Times of Israel
The Times of Israel: Spurning rules, Vassar Jewish Union joins 'open Hillel' movement

"The Jewish Union at Vassar College, a liberal arts college in Poughkeepsie, New York, became the second Hillel-affiliated campus organization in the US to call itself an 'open Hillel' on Tuesday.

The move means VJU will no longer adhere to Hillel International's guidelines on collaborating with groups or hosting speakers with certain views critical of Israel.

'The mission statement of the Vassar Jewish Union calls on us to commit to strengthening our pluralistic Jewish community,' said the organization in a statement posted to their website Tuesday. 'We recognize that identification with Israel is not necessarily an integral part of every individual's Jewish identity. We commit to providing a spiritual and cultural home for Jewish expression in any form.'..."

Mondoweiss: Vassar Hillel group defies parent org: Your Israel doctrine doesn’t represent 'diversity of young Jews'

"The Open Hillel movement is on the move! Let us celebrate. First it was the Swarthmore Hillel declaring last December that it is an open Hillel, and that non- and anti-Zionists are allowed to step across the threshold. Now we have a declaration of openness from the Vassar Jewish Union, a Hillel org, stating that the International's red lines on Israel are excluding young Jews. And an appeal from Berkeley alumni to leaders of the the University of California Hillel. Both statements are below..."

Op-Ed in Ha'aretz: Open debate in Hillel means a victory for Israel. At Berkeley, for example

"...Which brings us to Berkeley, and a new campaign, launched this week, in which Berkeley Hillel alumni urge that Hillel be declared open to all Jewish students regardless of their political beliefs.

I have a special interest in this.

I was once president of Berkeley Hillel. Long, long ago, at a time that was curiously like this one. And this is what I learned then: The more that Hillel opened itself up to a broader range of views, the less politicized and the more welcoming a place it became.

And the more welcoming it became, the more that young people who might otherwise have had no interest whatsoever in Israel, nor in Judaism, found themselves with a cause, and a passion, and a commitment that has lasted a lifetime...."

The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish Daily Forward: Confessions of a Disengaged Young Jew

"...Having left Hillel and Birthright uninformed, my indifference eventually became willful. I just couldn't juggle the experience of Tel Aviv's lively beaches, the serene intensity of Friday evenings at the Kotel, and the sadness and shame I feel when I hear about life in Gaza and the West Bank. So instead of finding a way to reconcile these discordant realities, I detached. Israel just wouldn't be my problem to solve.

As we debate whether or not Hillels should open up their doors to anti-Zionists, we should keep in mind that according to the recent Pew Research Center study on American Jewry, more and more young American Jews are moving in my direction, distancing themselves from Israel altogether. This isn't so much about Zionism versus anti-Zionism as it is about not bothering at all..."

Makom: Drawing the Lines

"Jewish communities need to retreat from creating pariahs and from practices of exclusion towards those with minority views on Israel — and that means including at least some kinds of Jewish anti-Zionists in at least some kinds of Jewish communal settings.

I do not make this argument out of sympathy with such views, but from a concern for Jewish peoplehood and Jewish community. This is, in part, an idealistic argument. I believe that if Jewish peoplehood means anything, it means accepting that one's destiny as a Jew is tied into the destinies of Jews who hold views that one may find objectionable...

...Jewish cross-communal institutions — like Hillel — have become used to using Israel as a way of building consensus and enthusiasm. This is no longer a viable strategy. It follows then that in order to ease the Israel conflict, Jewish institutions that aspire to inclusion may have to pull back from some kinds of celebratory and defensive Israel-related activity. These kinds of activity should be the job of specialist organisations with clear ideologies. There is no such thing as a non-political response to Israel and we need to abandon the illusion that celebrating or defending Israel will not be divisive and political..."

Op-Ed in Ha'aretz: Are your views 'pro-Israel' enough for your JCC?

David Harris-Gershon, liberal Zionist Jewish author and educator, has now been banned from speaking at the Washington, D.C. JCC for his stance that boycotts are a legitimate form of non-violent political protest:

"The event was cancelled because, apparently, I had crossed a red line for Zawatsky. Now, this line wasn't crossed when I wrote that, as a progressive Zionist, I long for Israel to thrive as a Jewish, democratic state. Nor was it crossed when I wrote about my desire for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be resolved via a two-state solution. However, I crossed a red line upon writing that I view economic sanctions as a legitimate form of nonviolent protest for Palestinians to use, despite my opposition to some tactics used by the BDS movement and its implicit goal of a binational state.

It's a view I hold with regard to the United States and its sanctions against Iran, a view I hold in general to be unimpeachable: the legitimacy and preference of nonviolent forms of opposition, such as sanctions, over war and violence.

Apparently, it's also a view which will prohibit me from speaking before the DCJCC community..."

The New York Jewish Week
Op-Ed in The New York Jewish Week: Limiting Debate On Israel Will Only Hurt Us

"...Not only will Hillel not succeed in stemming the growth of a movement afoot for campuses to declare themselves 'Open Hillels' in defiance of the Hillel speech guidelines on Israel, but the net result of the controversy will be that thousands of students will be convinced that the Jewish community has a 'party line' on Israel that cannot be crossed. There is no surer recipe to drive Next Gen Jews away from identification with the Jewish community..."

"...One of the hallmarks of the American principle of free speech is insuring the right of citizens to speak their minds even if the views expressed are repugnant. Now is the time for Jewish leaders of courage to take a similar, principled stand."

The Canadian Jewish News
The Canadian Jewish News: Where's the line in campus debates about Israel?

When Hillel Ottawa's Israel Awareness Committee (IAC) updated its Facebook page last month to include a social media code of conduct, Tyler Levitan noticed a clause that he says violates the committee's stated goal of 'engaging in debate, discussion and dialogue on Israeli society, culture and politics.'

Based on Hillel International's general operational guidelines for all its chapters, the code says the IAC will remove posts that endorse boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel, which it views as 'hateful rhetoric.'

But Levitan, national campaigns co-ordinator for Independent Jewish Voices, said the IAC policy stifles discussion by silencing people who disagree with Hillel's position on Israel.

His challenge echoes a debate going on south of the border, where a backlash against Hillel's chapter guidelines has spawned a growing 'Open Hillel' movement..."

Swarthmore Daily Gazette
The Swarthmore Daily Gazette: Open Hillel Decision Paves Way For New Discussion

"Swarthmore Hillel's status change to an open Hillel has led the push for new discussion amongst a wide range of voices at Swarthmore and worldwide, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Now, the organization plans to open up dialogue on the Israel-Palestine conflict — a topic that Swarthmore Hillel has avoided in past years..."

'...Hillel is not a political organization,' Hillel Communications Director Josh Wolfsun '16 said. 'We are a cultural and religious organization and one of the things that the Standards of Partnership does is make us implicitly take a political position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our mission is to serve the Swarthmore Jewish community. Period.'..."

The Nation
The Nation: This Month, Students Massed Against Stop-and-Frisk, Won on Title IX and Scared Off Tom Corbett

Open Hillel written up in The Nation's "Student Nation" blog about campus activism!

"Jewish college students across the country have begun to unify in protest of the current policies of Hillel, a Jewish organization located on college campuses nationwide. The current Hillel policies forbid students from collaborating under its name with groups that support political positions that it defines as anti-Israel. In a courageous display of defiance, the students of Swarthmore College's Hillel voted to embrace a new set of guidelines proposed by Open Hillel, an organization started by Jewish students at Harvard. Open Hillel aims to promote free speech within Hillel's walls, inviting students and speakers regardless of their beliefs about Zionism and Israel. As a national organization, Open Hillel has drawn supporters from across the country, as it continues to lobby Hillel to change its rigid guidelines."

The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish Daily Forward: Feud Over Hillel Pro-Israel Rule Sparks New Controversy at California College

"Yet after extending the invitation, leaders of the Hillel chapter learned that Harris-Gershon, a self-proclaimed progressive Zionist who supports Israel as a Jewish state and backs a two-state solution, had also publicly endorsed the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction movement. On Jan. 8, they decided to rescind the invitation, citing the still-raw atmosphere following a campus push for divestment from Israel last year.

That stunned Harris-Gershon, particularly given that the focus of his talk was to be on his book — not boycotting Israel.

Thus, just one month after a feud broke out between Hillel International and its Swarthmore College chapter over its pro-Israel guidelines, began the latest chapter in the ongoing controversy on another college campus some 3,000 miles away.

'It's an example of how far an organization can go to limit dialogue and debate based upon Hillel International's guidelines,' said Harris-Gershon. 'How on earth does Hillel intend to actually advertise itself as an open place for university students when large swaths of university students won't [fit in]?'..."

Swarthmore Phoenix
The Swarthmore Phoenix: Swarthmore Hillel draws ire from international organization
"Prior to winter break, the college's Hillel chapter, the largest Jewish organization on campus, declared itself an 'Open Hillel.' Notably, Hillel is the largest national college campus organization for Jewish students in the country. The policy changes mean that Hillel members will no longer abide by the Hillel guidelines that prohibit chapters from collaborating with speakers or groups that 'delegitimize' or 'apply a double standard' to Israel. The Hillel dispute has furthered an increasingly hot debate over what entails appropriate discussion and activism concerning Israel and Israeli politics on college campuses..."
Harvard Political Review
Harvard Political Review: A Very Narrow Bridge: The Open Hillel Debate
"...We should never forget the Holocaust. Its memory will, and should, continue to touch Israeli policy. But we need to be careful about how. Rather than fearfully wielding its memory as political strategy—rather than precariously making Jewish identity contingent upon its fearful trauma—let us universalize its lessons. Especially because neither side is innocent, it is time to acknowledge each other's histories. In memory of the Holocaust we must justify peace, not violence. We must not draw lines, but erase them. A first step could be Open Hillel."
New Voices
Op-ed in New Voices: What About Non-Zionists?

"...For many of the participants in the Open Hillel debate, the choice seems obvious: either you are Zionists of some sort, or you are 'anti-Israel.' After all, isn't anti-Zionism 'the belief that this country should not exist'? Isn't this 'a morally repugnant idea' comparable to those of the Ku Klux Klan?

Actually, no. I'm a non-Zionist Israeli studying in the U.S. I want my country to thrive; I also want my country's regime to reflect two of my values: equality, and friendship. Equality means abolishing more than fifty laws that currently discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel in the name of Zionism..."

WBAI New York
WBAI 99.5 FM New York: Beyond the Pale

Open Hillel organizers Emily Unger and Lex Rofes discuss Open Hillel on the January 19th episode of Beyond the Pale, a left-wing Jewish radio show hosted by WBAI 99.5 FM New York. Check out the recording in the WBAI archives!

Long Island Newsday
Op-Ed in Long Island Newsday: Israel-Palestine diplomacy, the college-campus way

"...The outcome of this clash is yet to be determined, but I am inspired by the students' brave defense of intellectual freedom. Their openness to hearing diverse ideas and beliefs runs opposite to so much of what we see today: the gridlock in Washington, the struggle over gun control, the fundamentalist and ethnic hatreds fueling wars.

Call me naive, but I don't think people resolve disputes by retreating into corners with their partisans. Besides, isn't college the very place to debate ideas, test one's opinions and decide where one belongs in the world?..."

New Voices
New Voices: An Interview with the Jewish Educator Banned from UCSB Hillel

New Voices editor Derek M. Kwait interviews author and Jewish educator David Harris-Gershon about his experience being banned from Hillel, his thoughts about discourse on Israel in the American Jewish community, and what he hopes to see from Hillel in the future.

New Voices
New Voices: Four Things You Don't Know About the Swarthmore Hillel Controversy

"...Things change fast in college life and opinion, and that goes double for the iPhone generation. Hillel's on campus staff is far better suited to respond to the changing needs of their constituencies than middle-aged executives in Washington. Virtually no one who helped draft the current guidelines in 2010 is still an undergrad; certainly no one currently at Swarthmore had any say in them.

Therefore, since Hillel International has so little control over its franchises, and since students and Hillel staff on campus know their own student body better than the headquarters, Israel guidelines should be the purview of the individual Hillel, not the umbrella organization. In other words, the way it originally was..."

Tikkun: I'm Now Another Jew Who Has Been Barred from Speaking in a Jewish Building (in America)

"Last week, I wrote about how, due to my writing on the issue of boycotts and Israel, I was asked by a prominent Jewish organization (Hillel) to publish a favorable political statement before being allowed into its building to speak about my book, What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?

Despite my discomfort with such a problematic request, I published it. For I thought, If there are places where talking about reconciliation and understanding might be meaningful and important, this is one of them.

The statement I made affirmed my desire, as a progressive Zionist, for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while acknowledging the legitimacy of economic sanctions against Israel as a nonviolent form of opposition. I made this statement, even though its focus has little to do with the focus of my book.

Despite this, and our prior agreement regarding the statement, I've come to learn that I have been barred from speaking. And so, this is now my story — a story tragically being replicated far too often today in America as Jewish institutions decide not just what may, and may not, be discussed with regard to Israel, but who may discuss such issues as well..."

Zeek: Who is Boycotting Whom? National Hillel Guidelines, Dissent, and Legitimate Protest

"...Of course, it is not all about boycotts, but more generally the issue of boycotts has become a test-case for Hillel's commitment to pluralism and its intended goal of serving as a 'Jewish home' on college campuses for Jews, whatever their belief, practice, or affiliation. For the most part Hillel has been exemplary in this regard, sponsoring events for all religious denominations, for secular humanists, atheists, and totally unaffiliated Jews. But as we have seen, Israel is a different story.

From what has thus far appeared in print, discussion of this topic has largely avoided a few basic issues. First, terms of the debate are rarely defined. Second, the concept of 'boycott' as a form of protest is never explored outside the parameters of the issue at hand. Finally, there has not been a well- crafted reason offered to limit pluralism when it comes to this issue while honoring it elsewhere. This is not to say an argument can't be made, it is only to say that it hasn't..."

The Wexner Foundation
The Wexner Foundation Blog: In Praise of Pluralism at the Swarthmore Hillel

"...It is in this spirit that I declare my pride in the Swarthmore Hillel. My peers are leading the way to a pluralistic vision for the wider Hillel community. They understand that allowing an opinion to be aired out in the open does not necessarily imply endorsement of that opinion. It only acknowledges that people in our community are entitled and encouraged to struggle with what they believe about the Jewish state and the Palestinian people.

As both Jews and participants in the 21st century, we must not be satisfied with hearing a single side or a limited range of an issue. If we are to honor the legacy of the Rabbis of the Talmud, pluralists who came before us, and respect the free discourse surrounding the future of the Jewish state, we must engage, debate, and discuss with one another the issues so key to our collective future."

Justice in the City
Justice in the City: Standing before God (On Hillel and Open Hillel)

Rabbi, author, and professor Aryeh Cohen writes about how Hillel's current policies abandon the moral tradition of the sages.

"...One might have thought that Hillel, which has somewhere in its portfolio the mission to be a home to Jewish life on campus, would have articulated something about its ethical commitments. Something along the lines of: 'Hillel does not accept donations from anybody who has not been faithfully honest in their business, who has not done their utmost to ensure that they were just to their workers.' Perhaps 'Hillel will not partner with an organization that uses religion to oppress others, or whose religious practices give religion a bad name.' Unfortunately, none of this is on Hillel's website. The only guidelines, as far as I could tell, are in regards to one's Zionist fidelity.

This is the difference between a Sage and a politician. When the values of the Jewish people are articulated by a politician, they ignore ethics and go straight to politics. You are Jewish if you will go to the AIPAC convention. You are not Jewish if you 'hold Israel to a double standard.' The Sage realizes that the core values are beyond the realpolitik of the current moment."

Op-Ed in Mondoweiss: My Disillusionment with Hillel: Feeling censored and unwelcomed in the Jewish community

"When I was a freshman at UC San Diego, I sought to find a home away from home. Naturally, I was drawn to Hillel; its mission of providing a community for Jewish students to embrace their cultural and religious identities made me feel like it would be a natural fit. I became involved extensively — I participated in Shabbat services, served as a delegate on a service project trip with American Jewish World Service, and took Hebrew lessons. However, it wasn't until I co-founded an organization called Jewish Students Taking Action for Peace (JSTAP), a forum for students to engage in critical discussions about the Israel-Palestine conflict, that I felt how unwelcoming Hillel could be when it came to those who were critical of Israel.

Although I remained committed for some time to work through Hillel, there were far too many obstacles. Because JSTAP encouraged dialogue on BDS, partnered with a variety of organizations, such as Breaking the Silence and Jewish Voice for Peace, we were finally given an ultimatum: abide my Hillel's guidelines or remove yourself and operate as a separate entity.

By giving me an ultimatum I felt as if I was being censored and unwelcomed in the Jewish community. I was being told indirectly that while I could hold my own individual views, I would be denied a public platform to speak while others were given the opportunity.

So for me the choice was simple: I removed myself completely. For the remainder of my years at UC San Diego, I disassociated myself from the Jewish community and Hillel altogether.

I wish that didn't have to be the case..."

Slate Internet Radio
Slate Political Gabfest: The Three Jews, Two-and-a-Half Opinions Edition

Listen to David Plotz, Will Saletan, and Emily Bazelon discuss the Open Hillel campaign and Hillel International's policies on Slate Politcal Gabfest!

Tikkun: On Being at the Center of a Controversy within the U.S. Jewish Community

Author and Jewish educator David Harris-Gershon writes about being forced to prove his Zionist credentials in order to be permitted to speak in Santa Barbara Hillel.

"Recently, due to my writing on the issue of boycotts and Israel, I was asked by a prominent Jewish organization to make a public, political statement before being allowed into its building to speak about my book, What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?

This request, as well as its troubling implications, are part of a sudden controversy which has arisen in the American Jewish community over what can, and cannot, be discussed regarding Israel..."

The New Republic
The New Republic: Hillel's Crackdown on Open Debate is Bad News for American Jews

An fantastic, in-depth look at the history of Hillel and its relationship to Zionism.

"Turmoil is common in campus groups; those not in turmoil tend to be defunct. And Jewish groups are certainly no exception. But this conflict over Hillel's policies may have broader significance. It suggests a growing rift among younger Jews over American policy toward Israel that anticipates divisions just appearing among Jewish adults. It augurs difficulty for Washington's Israel lobby. The conflict over Hillel also touches on the question of what it means to be Jewish in America. It suggests that an ironclad identification between being Jewish and supporting Israel against its critics, which emerged with Israel's founding, is weakening among the young..."

The New Republic
The New Republic: Hillel's Crackdown on Open Debate is Bad News for American Jews

An fantastic, in-depth look at the history of Hillel and its relationship to Zionism.

"Turmoil is common in campus groups; those not in turmoil tend to be defunct. And Jewish groups are certainly no exception. But this conflict over Hillel's policies may have broader significance. It suggests a growing rift among younger Jews over American policy toward Israel that anticipates divisions just appearing among Jewish adults. It augurs difficulty for Washington's Israel lobby. The conflict over Hillel also touches on the question of what it means to be Jewish in America. It suggests that an ironclad identification between being Jewish and supporting Israel against its critics, which emerged with Israel's founding, is weakening among the young..."

Op-Ed in Ha'aretz: In boycotting the boycotters, Hillel is shooting itself in the foot

"...No wonder young American Jews committed to ending the Israeli occupation feel disillusioned and angry when Hillel treats them the same way the ASA treats Israeli universities. The more Hillel alienates criticism of Israel from its party line, the more it alienates students who are passionate about Israel but object to its policies or ethnocentric character.

In its mission statement, Hillel International says it wishes to build enduring connections to Israel. By enforcing the Israel guidelines, the organization stands in its own way of achieving this goal, because a sizeable group of students define their connection to Israel beyond, or on the fringes of, Hillel's framework for permissible dialogue. So when their voices are stifled, they cannot partner with Hillel to foster anything. Really, Hillel's tactic is no better than that of the ASA: It serves to exclude the very voices it should engage."

Ha'aretz: Hillel's 'loyalty test' puts the kibosh on left-wing Israel events, critics say

"The 2010 guidelines are intended to protect students connected to the Hillels on more than 550 campuses worldwide from anti-Zionism, according to Hillel's president and CEO, Eric Fungerhut. But some critics say that instead they function as a sort of loyalty test. If students want to host a speaker who is viewed as too critical of Israel, the critics say, then both the guidelines and Hillel's fear of a potential loss of donor funding are invoked as a way to quash the event..."

"Policies that lead to college students feeling marginalized by Hillel will exact a toll long after they graduate, said Steven M. Cohen, a demographer who is a research professor at the Reform movement's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. "The guidelines are liable to alienate the most curious, free-thinking and liberal students from Jewish discourse in general and Hillel and Israel specifically,' said Cohen..."

The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish Daily Forward: Busting the New Year's Jewish Myths

"Myth #4: Jewish college students need grown-up help to combat creeping anti-Zionism on campus.

Not always. The decision by Swarthmore College students to become an 'Open Hillel,' defying Hillel International to include non-Zionists in their programming, may well be replicated on other campuses in 2014. This is what students do: challenge rules, push boundaries, create their own acceptable realities and, hopefully, learn to live with the consequences.

Let this be a teachable moment rather than a cause for hysteria. Hillel has the right to set its own rules; students have a right to challenge them; both sides have the obligation to negotiate with civility and respect. The myriad outside groups established to protect college students from forces real and imagined ought to step back and interfere only when necessary, and then only when asked. The Jewish community needs to have more faith in its college students to deal with controversy."

Rabbis Without Borders
My Jewish Learning: Rabbis Without Borders: Why Ursula LeGuin Would Support Swarthmore's Open Hillel

"...Swarthmore has made the right choice, not because every speaker they host will be telling the whole truth (although even in a narrative that we wholly reject, we may be able to learn something), but because by opening the debate, they show that they trust us to do the right thing, to understand complex situations, to do our homework, and to act for the right and the good. In doing so, they show faith in the Jewish future, because they understand that in staring both truth and falsehood down, we will learn from both, and 'the truth will spring up from the earth.' (Ps. 85:12)"

The New York Times
The New York Times: Letters to the Editor on Hillel's Policy on Campus Speakers

Letters to the editor in response to the article on Open Hillel — especially check out the letter from Michelle Sachar, the granddaughter of Hillel's former national director:

"...When Abram Sachar, my grandfather, built Hillel, it was as a place where all Jewish students would feel welcome. My father, the historian Howard Sachar, continued this tradition of inclusion during his years of service to American Jewish campus life.

For centuries, the strongest communities of the diaspora have been those that encouraged discussion and debate. Our willingness to engage dissenters rested on logic and morality. I fear that the trend to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel comes from a collective fear: that the occupation of the West Bank has forced Israel and those who unquestioningly support it to cede the moral high ground. For Israel's sake and our own, we must re-embrace the tradition of open discussion of any topic with intellectual rigor."

Op-Ed in Ha'aretz: Should Adelson, Bennett and Lieberman be welcome at Hillel?

"...Despite Fingerhut's insistence that the overall discontent with the Israel conversation at Swarthmore is a mere 'aberration,' this is not the case. As polls demonstrate time and again, young Jews want to see an end to the occupation through two-states. We'll need a broad conversation to lead us there: a discussion that includes voices from across the political spectrum. As a pro-Israel and pro-peace student, I do not agree with anti-Zionists, but I still want to hear their perspectives. But I know I need to engage with everyone and take action with those who share my political values.

I take Eric Fingerhut at face value that from now on, speakers who question Israel's democratic commitments will be as restricted as those who question Israel's Jewish character. And so all invested in this discussion need to know: are Bennett, Lieberman, and Adelson welcome in the Hillel building?"

The New York Times
The New York Times: Members of Jewish Student Group Test Permissible Discussion on Israel

The Open Hillel Campaign and Swarthmore Hillel covered in the New York Times!

"At Harvard, the Jewish student group Hillel was barred from co-sponsoring a discussion with a Palestinian student group. At Binghamton University, a Hillel student leader was forced to resign his position after showing a film about Palestinians and inviting the filmmaker's brother to speak. And on many other campuses, Hillel chapters have been instructed to reject collaboration with left-leaning Jewish groups.

At American colleges, few values are as sacred as open debate and few issues as contested as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Hillel, whose core mission is to keep the next generation of Jews in the fold, says that under its auspices one thing is not open to debate: Those who reject or repudiate Israel have no place...

...'Hillel does a fantastic job of bringing together Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, secular students, and respecting everyone's different religious practice,' said Rachel Sandalow-Ash, a student active in the Hillel at Harvard. 'But in the political realm, that sort of pluralism just doesn't exist, and students who have more dissident views on Israel are excluded in many ways..."

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post: It's Time to Take Down the Scaffolding

Jess Coleman, a student at Cornell, writes in support of Open Hillel and allowing the new generation to open up conversation on Israel.

"...When Israel's existence was constantly in question, it was easy to hide behind the veil of security. But it is time to consider both the existential threat that exists from not resolving the conflict — certainly with respects to Israel's security, but also to its moral character. There are new challenges now: What will happen when thousands of Palestinians march peacefully into Jerusalem demanding basic political rights?

As we're seeing at Swarthmore, the disconnect between the older generation — whose dollars and guidelines dictate the conversation — and my generation — who are supposed to be having the conversation — is stark..."

TC Jewfolk
TC Jewfolk: "Open," Don't Close The Conversation on Israel

"...These are difficult ideas, conversations and internal disputes to combat. As I wrestle, I feel most comfortable speaking with Jewish peers. I know they often come from a similar place of loyalty, love and confusion when it comes to addressing the current state of Israel. I hesitate to have these conversations with non-Jewish progressive friends. I sometimes wonder if they really "get it." Do they understand how personal Israel is to me? Do they understand how my Judaism is wrapped up in my relationship to a state that is over 6,000 miles away? Probably not, how could they?

I needed and still need a Jewish space to have these battles. Hillel is a crucial component of many Jewish American students' college experience; for some students it has nothing to do with their college experience as a Jew. Every individual does not need to feel that Hillel is the only way they can connect to Judaism. However, it should be an option for every individual. If students in college now are anything like I was when I was 19, they need a place to grapple, explore and converse on this personal and complex topic. If college Hillels do not allow for variety in perspective and conversation on this topic, what does that say about the future of the Jewish people?"

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency blog: Hillel has right to restrict discourse, but that's not the issue

"...With its adoption of Israel guidelines, and most recently in its decision to lay down the law with respect to Swarthmore Hillel's rejection of them, Hillel has chosen a way to balance those tensions that is likely to exclude some of those Jewish students it would presumably like to engage. Sure, non- Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews are welcome at Hillel — just don't expect to be able to air your views about Israel. It's a posture that reminds me a little of how some Orthodox Jews try to welcome gays by saying, Sure, you can come to shul, just don't ever acknowledge your sexuality.

From what I remember about the zeal of college kids, that condition is unlikely to fly. As a Swarthmore Hillel board member told the Forward, 'very, very progressive Jews' already don't see Hillel as their home. Chances are, those kids — at Swarthmore and elsewhere — are not going to be part of organized Jewish life in their college years. Whether it admits it or not, Hillel is manifestly willing to lose those students to uphold a line on Israel that many American Jews reject."

The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish Daily Forward: Swarthmore Hillel Gets Boost From Controversy Over Israel Critics

"On a recent Friday night, members of Swarthmore College's Hillel community gathered to celebrate Shabbat and reflect on a tumultuous week. With final exams set to begin in the morning, Hillel members in this Pennsylvania college expected a very low turnout.

But to their delight, the room in Bond Hall, which houses Swarthmore's interfaith religious center, was packed on December 11 — with about 30 students in attendance. 'That's a lot for us, that's huge,' said Hanna Kipnis-King, a Hillel regular. 'Last week's Shabbos was the biggest we had seen all year.'

The newcomers came out to voice support for the Hillel board, which was thrust into the national spotlight after it passed a resolution allowing anti- Zionist speakers to participate in its programming, in violation of Hillel International's guidelines on Israel. 'Hillel is attracting significant new Jewish membership as a result of this resolution,' said Kipnis-King..."

The Velveteen Rabbi
The Velveteen Rabbi: Open hearts, open minds, open Hillel

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat writes in support of Open Hillel.

"When I was an undergraduate, I attended a small liberal arts college which didn't formally have a Hillel, though we did have a Jewish religious center and student group on campus. I attended Shabbat services there regularly — until differences of opinion, both ritual and political, drove me to seek my spiritual self-expression through unofficial channels instead. [...] If my student organization had been the kind of 'open Hillel' which Swarthmore's organization aspires to become, I might have stayed engaged all the way through...

"...No one should have to leave part of themselves behind in order to merit a seat at the table. No one should be excluded from the Jewish community because of what they believe — including their stances on Israel/Palestine. Beyond that, what message do we send when we seek to control the conversation about Israel? What are we afraid of — that someone might say something with which we don't agree? It seems to me that the correct answer to speech with which one disagrees is not silencing that speech, but rather adding more speech to broaden and enrich the conversation. That's precisely what the Open Hillel movement aims to do...."

Op-Ed in Jewschool: About Hillel's Israel Guidelines

A fantastic op-ed from Daniel Roth about the hypocrisy in Hillel International's current guidelines and the double standard applied to right-wing and left- wing speakers at Hillel.

"First of all they won't let anyone talk who will 'Deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders.' Which seems reasonable at first, right? But of course this means that a speaker such as Israel's Minister of Economy, Naftali Bennett cannot be hosted by Hillel or Hillel's partners as Minister Bennett does not support Israeli democracy. As well, the continuation of the occupation is quite possibly the policy that puts Israel's security and borders at the most risk, so this list of banned speakers now must include a plethora of current and past Israeli government officials, ministers, members of Knesset, and a swath of authors, professors and other public voices that support continuation of the occupation.

And of course, anyone who would try to 'Delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel' need not apply. [...] I suppose this means that Alan Dershowitz can't speak at Hillel events anymore since he has gone on record with the truly golden double standard that Israel should disregard international law..."

The Harvard Crimson
The Harvard Crimson Staff Editorial: Campus Hillels Should Make Their Own Choices

The Editorial board of the Harvard Crimson writes in support of Open Hillel:

"...College campuses ought to be places of deep and thoughtful debate. As an organization that characterizes itself primarily as a pluralistic center of Jewish life, Hillel International should not make participation in Jewish life contingent on holding particular political views about the Middle East. Hillel should allow Swarthmore Hillel to remain open and encourage all of its chapters to decide on their own levels of 'openness.'"

Washington Jewish Week
Washington Jewish Week: An academic exercise: Is Hillel International managing dissent, or fanning the flames?

Great coverage of Swarthmore Hillel and the Open Hillel campaign, with quotes from students across the country who want more inclusion in our Jewish communities.

"...At issue are Hillel-affiliated groups that wish to co-sponsor programs with pro-Palestinian groups. Fingerhut terms such pro-Palestinian groups 'anti- Zionist,' and whose goals include 'destroying the state of Israel.' Others see the guidelines, which weren't instituted until 2010, as the danger.

'The Pew study showed that young American Jews are more progressive than their elders,' says Asher Mayerson, student president of Dartmouth Hillel and a Rockville native. 'We're losing them. We need to open up the conversation [about Israel].'..."

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post: Israel, Hillel, & Idolatry

A beautiful d'var Torah from Rabbi Arthur Waskow in support of Open Hillel, calling upon American Jews to not make an idol of Israel and to strengthen the Jewish community through thoughtful, open debate.

"Recent controversies within Hillel International, the 'home' for many Jewish college students of diverse backgrounds and beliefs, have made public in a sharper way a profound spiritual issue confronting American Jews and their 'official' organizations.

The spiritual issue: When does strong support from many American Jews for the State of Israel and its Jewish citizens as an emergency refuge, as a creative culture, as a defender of Jewish interests, as a member of the Jewish family, become idolatry of the State?..."

Vice Magazine
Vice Magazine: A Jewish College Group Is Opening Its Doors to Criticism of Israel

"Swarthmore College may have just fired the first shot across the bow in a dispute between the Jewish student organization Hillel International and a growing chorus of members who claim that it should be more inclusive..."

"...According to Swarthmore Hillel's communications director Joshua Wolfsun, the decision is not meant to be taken as a political stance by the group on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

'We're not an advocacy organization,' Wolfsun said. 'In our effort to build a diverse and inclusive community here, we felt like we wanted to be able to have an open discussion. We thought that Hillel's guidelines stopped us from doing that.'"

The Daily Beast
Open Zion: How Hillel Is Losing Touch With the People It Purports to Embrace

"...As Israelis, we can testify that Hillel is increasingly excluding more of us, whose nation Hillel purports to embrace. Recent events where Avraham Burg (a former chairman of the Knesset) was denied the chance to speak in the Harvard Hillel, or where members of Breaking the Silence (all former Israeli combatants) could not participate in events sponsored by Hillel only serve to make this evident. The upshot of this is not necessarily that Hillel must be more inclusive of Israelis — Hillel is an American organization — but rather that Hillel's not-to-be-questioned vision of Israel is simply losing contact with the reality experienced by an increasing number of Israelis...."

The New York Jewish Week
The New York Jewish Week: Hillel And Its Donors Repress Real Conversation About Israel

J Street U President Jacob Plitman writes in support of the Open Hillel campaign and letting students, not donors, determine Hillel policy.

"J Street U student leaders across the country have all had 'the conversation.' It's the moment when your Hillel director calls you into her office and tells you like it is: 'If I support the work you're doing around Israel, we could lose a major funder. It's either you or $50,000 that will benefit all your peers.'

At Hillels around the United States, some donors constrict the bounds of legitimate discourse on Israel and do a disservice to all of us who work to build the next generation of Jewish life. Hillel staff, caught between serving their students and keeping the lights on and the doors open, are vulnerable to some donors who seek to impose their political ideology over the interests and needs of students. There's a lot at stake here. Not just for J Street U, but for all of us..."

The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Swarthmore Jewish students break with Hillel policies

"Jewish students at Swarthmore College have become the first in the nation to break with the global student association Hillel and agree to open their doors to groups and speakers who do not support Israel.

The Swarthmore student board unanimously voted to renounce Hillel International's restrictions, which bar chapters from sponsoring events, hosting speakers, or partnering with groups that oppose Israel's right to exist or support a movement for universities to end investments in Israel because of its policies toward the Palestinians.

Students at the liberal Quaker college say they wanted to start a dialogue on Israel-Palestinian issues by holding joint events or inviting speakers who may have differing opinions about Israel.

'We felt like we needed to stand up for what we believe and the values we've always held,' said Joshua Wolfsun, a board member of the 100-student group..."

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post: Swarthmore College and the Need for Jewish Unity

"...As an Orthodox Jew and as a Zionist, I too feel uncomfortable listening to many of the political positions espoused by leading members of the academic community when it comes to the topic of Israel. Many American Jews may be disturbed, as Hillel's president and I were, by the political opinions of public intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky or Judith Butler regarding Zionism. But the discomfort that many of us feel should not — and cannot — lead us to ostracize members of our own community. The American Jewish community is already shrinking at a rapid rate, and it is critical to ensure that all its members feel welcome, regardless of political orientation..."

Jewish Voice for Peace
JVP Congratulates Swarthmore Jewish Student Group

"Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) congratulates Swarthmore Hillel, the Jewish student group at Swarthmore College, for having become the first-ever 'Open Hillel' in the country.

Being 'open' means they have voted to welcome students and partnerships with groups with a range of views regarding Israel, including Jewish Voice for Peace, in distinct contrast with Hillel International which has issued strict guidelines that ban programs or partnerships with groups that may be critical of Israeli human rights policies..."

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Swarthmore Hillel picks fight over campus group's Israel guidelines

"With an estimated Jewish population of 275 undergraduates, the Quaker-founded Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia is home to one of the smaller Hillel chapters in the country. But that hasn't stopped student activists at the small suburban school from picking a fight of potentially epic proportions with the umbrella group, Hillel International...

Ira Stup, director of the campus arm of the liberal Israel policy group J Street, said Hillel's hard line may have ramifications for efforts to engage Jewish students. 'For so many Jewish students Israel is such an important part of their Jewish identity and how they express Jewishness, so that to not have a space where they can explore challenging issues related to Israel ultimately does them a tremendous disservice,' Stup said..."

Non-Profit Quarterly
Non-Profit Quarterly: Swarthmore "Open Hillel" Embraces Israeli/Palestinian Dialogue

"...There is no progress without dialogue. Sometimes dialogue is very difficult and uncomfortable, as we wrote the other day concerning conversations about racism — not fun, but necessary. Hillel International's policy makes the dialogue all the more difficult with the vague catch-all of 'anti-Zionist,' which can easily be used to deny access to opponents of the policies of the Netanyahu government or to critics of the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank...."

The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish Daily Forward blog: Censoring Hillels Goes Against Jewish Traditions

Andy Bachman, former director of NYU Hillel, writes in support of the Open Hillel campaign

"...Ceding to the campus classrooms the most open debate on the most important issues facing us as Jews and Americans and not fostering them in the Hillels runs the risk of making Hillel simply irrelevant to the vast majority of young Jews today. It sends the message that the real learning they'll do on campus is in the classroom and that Hillel will be a Jewish choice for a select few who adhere to a wider directive from above. Hardly the choice of most young people I know today. This would be an enormous missed opportunity to engage young Jews in a substantive and meaningful way at a time in their lives when they are making some of their own most important decisions about Jewish identity and Israel..."

Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed: Going Rogue

"The student board at Swarthmore College's Hillel chapter has unanimously passed a resolution saying it will not abide by the international Jewish student organization's ban on hosting anti-Israel speakers.

Declaring itself an 'Open Hillel,' in an allusion to a broader movement against Hillel guidelines on campus-based Israel activities, the Swarthmore chapter resolved that it will 'host and partner with any speaker at the discretion of the board, regardless of Hillel International's Israel guidelines.'..."

Mondoweiss: Swarthmore Hillel stands by opening to anti-Zionists — as int'l org says, not 'under our roof'

'This is exciting news. After Swarthmore Hillel voted unanimously last weekend to open its doors to everyone who wants to discuss the conflict, including anti-Zionists, the president of Hillel International yesterday slammed the window on Swarthmore Hillel.

And Swarthmore Hillel has responded, We stand by our resolution."

The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish Daily Forward: Hillel Threatens Its Swarthmore Chapter With Expulsion Over Israel Dispute

A really good, comprehensive overview of Swarthmore Hillel's Open Hillel declaration, Hillel International's response, and the reasoning behind the Open Hillel campaign.

"Lex Rofes, an Open Hillel organizer, said Swarthmore contacted his group before it made its decision. 'They said they liked what we were doing and wanted to be a model for what this could look like,' he said. 'We are incredibly excited for this.' Rofes said his group had not heard from any other Hillel chapters but added that many individuals affiliated with Hillel chapters had privately expressed interest in Open Hillel.

Jacob Plitman, president of J Street U, the campus arm of the dovish pro-Israel lobby J Street, said his group strongly supported Swarthmore Hillel's right to invite whomever it pleased..."

Ha'aretz: Hillel warns Swarthmore chapter over rejection of Israel guidelines

The JTA article made it into Ha'aretz!

"The Hillel student board at the Pennsylvania liberal arts college voted unanimously on Sunday to reject the Hillel guidelines for campus Israel activities. Swarthmore became the first chapter of the Jewish campus organization to declare itself an 'Open Hillel' — part of a student movement that says its goal is to 'encourage inclusivity and open discourse at campus Hillels...'"

The Daily Beast
Open Zion: Swarthmore Hillel Breaks From Guidelines Over Ban on 'Anti-Zionist' Speakers

"Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, has long struggled with where to draw red lines on the conversation about Israel. Since the 'Hillel Guidelines for Campus Israel Activity' were updated, there have been regular campus battles between university students and the organization. The guidelines restrict whom Hillel groups may partner with or host, based on their politics, something that has been persistently controversial. Yesterday, Swarthmore College Hillel took a huge step by breaking with the guidelines officially and declaring itself an 'Open Hillel.' Now might be the time for Hillel International to take another stab at updating those guidelines..."

The Leftern Wall
The Leftern Wall: A Killing, Prawer Pushback, Druze Refusal & Open[ed] Hillel: Four Stories from This Week

"Here is: A well-organized campaign, reclaiming Jewish symbols and religious history and protesting political and communal censorship all in one fell swoop. And with results..."

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Hillel warns Swarthmore chapter over rejection of Israel guidelines

"Hillel International warned its Swarthmore College chapter that it cannot use the Hillel name if it flouts the international Jewish campus group's Israel guidelines.

Hillel delivered the warning Tuesday in a sharply worded letter following the Swarthmore chapter student board's decision to repudiate Hillel guidelines prohibiting partnerships with groups deemed hostile toward Israel..."

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Swarthmore Hillel rejects Hillel Israel guidelines

Check out this article, which has been reposted in Jewish publications across the country!

"The student board of the Swarthmore College Hillel repudiated international Hillel guidelines prohibiting partnerships with groups deemed hostile toward Israel. The Hillel student board at the Pennsylvania liberal arts college voted unanimously on Sunday to reject the Hillel guidelines for campus Israel activities. Swarthmore became the first chapter of the Jewish campus organization to declare itself an 'Open Hillel' — part of a student movement that says its goal is to 'encourage inclusivity and open discourse at campus Hillels...'"

The Jewish Exponent
The Jewish Exponent: Swarthmore Hillel Breaks From National Group's Guidelines

"The Swarthmore Hillel will no longer adhere to Hillel International's guidelines on Israel, which bar its campus organizations from hosting speakers who do not abide by certain principles related to Israel. The group's board voted unanimously to become an 'Open Hillel' on Dec. 8, said sophomore Joshua Wolfson, communications coordinator at the liberal arts college's Hillel..."

Corey Robin
Corey Robin: We Are an Open Hillel

"Hillel is one of the rabbis in the Jewish tradition most associated with the spirit of questioning, argument, and debate. Indeed, so intense and multiple were his disagreements with Shammai that a saying emerged from their disputes: 'The one law has become two.'

So it seems entire appropriate for the Jewish students of the Swarthmore College Hillel to have adopted the following resolution, declaring themselves to be an 'Open Hillel'..."

The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish Daily Forward: Swarthmore Hillel Defies Headquarters on Boycott Israel Program Restrictions

"Swarthmore College's Hillel student board voted unanimously Sunday to defy Hillel International's guidelines for Israel programming, condemning them for repressing free speech on Israel for Jewish students on campus.

The vote marked the first time a Hillel student board declared its intent to override the parent body's guidelines..."

Muzzlewatch: This is huge: Swarthmore Hillel breaks with Israel policy

"Our friends at the Open Hillel campaign have won a landmark victory in their efforts to transform campus Hillel chapter into spaces that welcome all Jews, instead of marginalizing those who oppose Israel's discriminatory policies. The passage of this resolution by the Swarthmore Hillel Student Board is a historic event, and a victory for all who support a more inclusive vision of Jewish community..."

Jewschool: Swarthmore Hillel Declares Itself An Open Hillel

"Across the country, Hillels' suppression of the freedom to speak and believe things that are not narrowly pro-Zionist are the direct result of Hillel International's Israel Guidelines. Right after stating in their 'Political Pluralism' section that they object to excluding 'students for their beliefs and expressions,' they declare that they 'will not partner with, house, or host' — in other words, they will exclude — groups and speakers that espouse certain beliefs about Israel. These contraband beliefs include denying the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and supporting boycotting, divesting, or sanctions against Israel. They also ban those who 'delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel.' No further explanation is provided to clarify these guidelines, but their ambiguity has done nothing to ease the stifling effect they have on individual Hillels' freedoms of speech, belief, and association. These guidelines would exclude speakers with views like those of Peter Beinart, Judith Butler, and Noam Chomsky..."

New Voices
New Voices: Swarthmore Hillel Declares Itself An Open Hillel

"...Hillel, billing itself as the 'Foundation for Jewish Campus Life,' is seen by many as the face of the American Jewish college population. And due to these policies, it is a face that is often seen to be monolithically Zionist, increasingly uncooperative, and completely uninterested in real pluralistic, open dialogue and discussion.

We do not believe this is the true face of young American Jews.

In fact, we do not believe there is only one face of young American Jews. We believe there are many faces of this diverse population. In our community, we find this diversity in the conversations we have with each other in our sukkah, in the group of students meeting in a college coffee bar to discuss Talmudic conceptions of angels, and in the songs we sing together after a Shabbat meal. If we are truly devoted to fostering Jewish Campus Life, we need to constantly wrestle with how best to meet the collective needs of a diverse community. We need to create a space that is safe and welcoming for all. We need to a create a space that invites difference — difference of opinion, difference of belief, difference of background, difference of race, gender, and sexual orientation..."

The Beacon
The Beacon: Swarthmore Hillel Declares Itself An Open Hillel (An Open Letter)

"...Therefore, we choose to depart from the Israel guidelines of Hillel International. We believe these guidelines, and the actions that have stemmed from them, are antithetical to the Jewish values that the name 'Hillel' should invoke. We seek to reclaim this name. We seek to turn Hillel — at Swarthmore, in the Greater Philadelphia region, nationally, and internationally — into a place that has a reputation for constructive discourse and free speech. We refuse to surrender the name of this Rabbi who encouraged dialogue to those who seek to limit it.

To that end, Swarthmore Hillel hereby declares itself to be an Open 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. We are an institution that seeks to foster spirited debate, constructive dialogue, and a safe space for all, in keeping with the Jewish tradition. We are an Open Hillel.

We invite you to join us."

Swarthmore Hillel is an Open Hillel! Student board's statements published in Mondoweiss

Two weeks ago, an Israeli speaker was barred from Harvard Hillel because he was sponsored by a Palestinian solidarity committee. Over the weekend the Swarthmore College Hillel responded with a stunning and unanimous declaration: We defy Hillel International's rules.

Here are two statements..."

Shalom Rav
Rabbi Brant Rosen: New Hillel and AIPAC Partnership: Open Hillel Responds

"This just in: Eric Fingerhut, the President of Hillel and Jonathan Kessler, the Leadership Development Director of AIPAC, have just announced in the Jewish Week that Hillel and AIPAC will be formally 'working together to strategically and proactively empower, train and prepare American Jewish students to be effective pro-Israel activists on and beyond the campus.'

What this means essentially is that Hillel, an organization that is meant to serve as an umbrella for the diverse Jewish student communities on college campuses nation wide, is now formally aligning itself with a lobbying group's specific definition of what it means to be 'pro-Israel.'

By way of response, I encourage you to read this statement (below) by Open Hillel, a grassroots student-run campaign that works to encourage inclusivity and open discourse at campus Hillels..."

Jewschool: Open Hillel Responds to AIPAC and Hillel's New Partnership

Hillel International and AIPAC have declared that they are partnering up to expand support for Israel on campus. Open Hillel responds in opposition to this partnership, and the narrow definition of Jewishness and "support for Israel" it promotes:

"Hillel has consistently demonstrated an admirable commitment to religious pluralism, welcoming students who span the full spectrum of Jewish religious practices and beliefs and encouraging students to connect with Judaism in ways that are meaningful to them. We are worried that this pluralistic spirit, so beneficial to Hillel and the Jewish community, is lacking in the political arena. In particular, we are deeply troubled by Hillel President and CEO Eric Fingerhut and AIPAC Leadership Development Director Jonathan Kessler's recent declaration that Hillel and AIPAC 'are working together to strategically and proactively empower, train and prepare American Jewish students to be effective pro-Israel activists on and beyond the campus.' We fear that this new partnership will alienate Jewish students whose views do not align with those of AIPAC, stifle discussion and debate on issues concerning Israel-Palestine, and undermine Hillel's commitment to creating an inclusive community..."

The Harvard Crimson
The Harvard Crimson: Hillel Leaders Seek To Open Discourse as Policy Bars Speaker

"A perennial issue faced by Harvard Hillel reemerged in anticipation of the November 11 visit of Avraham Burg, a prominent Israeli author, politician, and activist. Burg, whose trip was co-sponsored by the Harvard College Palestinian Solidarity Committee and a number of Hillel-affiliated organizations, was restricted from speaking at Hillel due to policies of Hillel International that prohibit college affiliates from partnering with organizations that hold views on Israel that it deems to be in conflict with its mission.

Now, in response to these issues, the Harvard Hillel Steering Committee plans to unveil new event co-sponsorship policies..."

JNS: Hillel at 90: The Jewish campus umbrella's past, present, and future

An overview of Hillel's 90 years of history, including one of the latest developments — the Open Hillel campaign.

"Hillel's official guidelines state that the group will not 'partner with, house or host organizations, groups or speakers that delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel.' But a student campaign, Open Hillel, was recently founded by students who feel excluded from Hillel because they believe their critical views about Israel are not accepted. Open Hillel held its first national campaign meeting in September..."

New Voices
New Voices: Pew Survey Conversation

Students and professors are interviewed about the recent Pew Survey, and one gives a special shout-out to Open Hillel!

"This ban on the discussion of BDS is honestly similar to what I imagine a petulant child who doesn't get his favorite candy bar to be like. Closed-minded and obnoxious. Again, young American Jews are not only more critical of Israel, but more questioning of what Israel means. Instead of more right-wing hasbara pushes and assuming undying devotion, let's see more discussion of the tough issues. I think the Open Hillel movement really should and could take advantage of this report to push more open-mindedness and debate within Hillels. More welcoming for J Street U should happen — I am fortunate enough to be on a campus where this is the case — and maybe even non-pro-Israel groups..."

New York Review of Books
The New York Review of Books: The American Jewish Cocoon

Peter Beinart condemns Hillel International's restrictive guidelines in his recent article:

"Guidelines like Hillel's — which codify the de facto restrictions that exist in many establishment American Jewish groups — make the organized American Jewish community a closed intellectual space, isolated from the experiences and perspectives of roughly half the people under Israeli control. And the result is that American Jewish leaders, even those who harbor no animosity toward Palestinians, know little about the reality of their lives..."

New Voices
New Voices: Open Hillel for an Open Hillel

"Jewish students of today can look to almost 100 years of Hillel's efforts to enrich Jewish campus life, strengthen Jewish identity, and combat anti-Semitism on campus. The umbrella created by the 550 local campus Hillels should be large enough to shelter all Jewish students. Unfortunately, a great number of Jewish student are left out in the rain.

Hillel's Guidelines for Campus Israel Activities excludes many students from organized campus programming based on their political views on Israel. Hillel should listen to many of its own members and beneficiaries who see this policy as undermining Hillel's presence as a place for all Jews 'regardless of belief.'..."

Times of Israel
Op-Ed in The Times of Israel: A House Divided

Roi Bachmutsky's +972 piece, picked up by the Times of Israel!

Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Op-Ed in Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Pluralism in Israel Must Extend to Hillel

J Street U student leaders voice their support for the Open Hillel campaign:

"Too many of our friends left Hillel because they felt alienated and stifled in raising questions or voicing their views on Israel. Too many have opted to disengage entirely rather than conforming to a community that tells them they do not fully belong.

As many Jewish organizations frantically try to attract more young Jews into their buildings, it is counterproductive, counterintuitive and, frankly, un-Jewish to deny full participation to any Jews simply because of their political beliefs.

Earlier this year, the Progressive Student Alliance [sic] at Harvard University launched an effort, Open Hillel, to challenge Hillel's guidelines. Its petition was signed by more than 800 Jewish students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives who believe that all Jewish students deserve a home in Hillel.

At the recent Hillel International board meeting, the signatures were presented to Hillel leadership. While we did not initiate this effort, we believe the Israel guidelines must be reevaluated based on feedback from students across the political spectrum..."

+972: A house divided: Campus divestment reveals cracks within the American Jewish establishment

"Jewish organizations generally provide members with just two antithetical 'sides' to choose between -- for or against divestment, pro or anti-Israel. [...] Notably, a grassroots student movement by the name of Open Hillel has recently sprouted out of Harvard University in opposition to the momentum of Federation policies. The campaign particularly targets Hillel International's Standards for Partnership, which 'exclude certain groups from Hillel based on their political views on Israel.' What if Harvard students, for example, wanted to host Stephen Hawking to discuss why he chose to respect the academic boycott of the Israeli Presidential Conference?..."

Jewschool: Open Hillel Updates

"Yesterday, the Open Hillel campaign, a student led initiative to change policies around permitted conversations on Israel on campus, presented their petition (801 signatures strong as of this writing) and letter to the Hillel International Board in Washington, D.C..."

Shalom Rav
Rabbi Brant Rosen: On Open Hillel, Open Debate and Open Minds

"As open debate and discussion have been indelible aspects of Jewish culture from time immemorial these attempts at muzzling students' voices are particularly egregious. Hillel International's guidelines (which are not obligatory for local Hillels) essentially ensure that there will be no honest and open Jewish conversations about Israel on campuses across the country. They will most certainly exclude growing Jewish student groups such as JVP — and they will also prevent Hillels from inviting co-sponsorship or dialogue with Palestinians, since almost all Palestinian campus groups support BDS.

"Trust me on this: this has everything to do with the Jewish establishment's fear of letting young Jews think for themselves on the subject of Israel..."

"Please join me in advocating for a Jewish student community that respects a plurality of Jewish student voices on Israel/Palestine. Please sign this petition by Open Hillel, a coalition of students that seek to change the 'standards of partnership' in Hillel International's guidelines and encourages local campus Hillels to adopt policies that 'allow for free discourse on all subjects within the Hillel community.'"

Vice Magazine
Vice Magazine: Open Hillel Campaign Stirs the Pot on BDS-Jewish Relations

"The issue came to a head at Harvard this January when members of the Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA) — a left-leaning political group within Harvard's Hillel — attempted to co-sponsor an event called 'Jewish Voices Against the Occupation' along with a BDS-supporting group, the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC). According to PJA chair Rachel Sandalow-Ash, despite informing adult advisors within Harvard Hillel and the Executive Director of Harvard Hillel, Jonah Steinberg, beforehand that the event would take place, 'as soon as it was known that the words Hillel and PSC would appear on a poster together, Hillel said they could not co-sponsor the event...'"

"Sandalow-Ash is clear when it comes to the ways which Hillel has harmed its stated mission of creating a politically pluralistic community on college campuses. 'What you're seeing, frankly, is a McCarthyist attitude,' she said. 'It's become stigmatized to have what people see as a dissenting view...there's a general unwillingness to speak with people on the other side.'"

Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed: The Politics of Joint Events

"Some students are organizing to ask Hillel to reconsider one of its long-held policies regarding event co-sponsorship..."

"Julia Wedgle, a Tufts University sophomore who signed the petition [...] said that she didn't see the petition as necessarily a question of being pro- or anti-Israeli or Palestinian. 'I don't think that by signing the petition, it means that you support BDS [the movement to boycott Israel and impose sanctions on the country],' she said. 'It means that you support free speech, and a variety of opinions.'"

Interview with Emily Unger on Jewschool

Check out this interview with Emily Unger, former chair of the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance, about why Open Hillel began and what it hopes to achieve!

"After the initial events, we took some time to discuss the best course of action. We concluded that this issue was important enough — that our ability to work with Palestinians on campus and fully express ourselves within the Jewish community was at stake — that we should fight to have these policies changed. We had the option of simply distancing ourselves from Hillel and continuing to hold these more controversial events outside of the Hillel building, but we did not want to become disconnected from the campus Jewish community in this way. Hillel has always been my home on campus, and it felt wrong to me to give up and leave. After all, as the 'center for Jewish life on campus, Hillel ought to support all Jewish life. Thus, rather than quietly drift away from Hillel, we decided to stay and improve the organization from within."

New Voices
Op-Ed in New Voices: Imagine a More 'Open Hillel'

"I am currently starting a chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace at Tufts. Although we are members of the Jewish community here, Hillel's Israel Guidelines exclude us because we support targeted BDS against the occupation. Ever since I publically acknowledged my support of Palestine, including writing an op-ed for the Tufts Daily about Hillel's Israel Guidelines, I have felt unwelcome at Hillel. I remain Interfaith Co-chair of Hillel's board, but I have lost much of my connection to the Jewish community here.

One of my favorite parts of Judaism is attending Shabbat services, but I have not done so since the beginning of last semester, because I’m afraid of what others at Hillel will say to me..."

Tufts Daily
The Tufts Daily: Online Hillel co-sponsorship petition gains Tufts signatures
"A petition created by a group of students at Harvard University circulating at Tufts and across the country calls for the national Hillel organization to remove its ban on allowing Hillel chapters to co-sponsor events with other groups that advocate for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. The online petition was created in November by a Harvard-based campaign called Open Hillel and as of yesterday had garnered 471 signatures, 38 of which are from Tufts students..."
The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish Daily Forward: Grassroots Student Groups Calmly Tackle Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Progressive Jewish Alliance and the Open Hillel campaign featured in an article on student-led movements addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

"Last November, PJA was scheduled to host an event at the campus Hillel, 'Jewish Voices Against the Israeli Occupation.' The event was co-sponsored by the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee.

Hillel International told the Harvard chapter that the pro-Palestinian group's co-sponsorship was against Hillel guidelines. PJA was forced to move its event, said PJA Chair Rachel Sandalow-Ash. Her group criticized Hillel in a public letter for 'moving farther and farther from being "the foundation of Jewish campus life" that it claims to be...'"

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post: Harvard and the Israel Debate

"When it comes to the topic of Israel, some hawkish members of the secular Jewish community appear to follow in the antediluvian footsteps of the shtetl. That anyone in our broader Jewish community is shunned for holding a nonviolent opinion is a travesty for both our people and our religion. The face of the younger Jewish community is constantly continuing to change, and it is important for everyone — including the much needed philanthropists at Harvard — to take note.

But more importantly, these people must remember that giving those with seemingly dissenting opinions a platform to speak doesn't necessarily mean that they agree with them. It's just a sign of respect."

The Harvard Crimson
The Harvard Crimson: Students Object to Hillel Policies

"A group of Harvard students has launched a campaign protesting international Hillel policies banning partnerships with student groups that 'support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel.'

The campaign, called Open Hillel and spearheaded by the Hillel-affiliated student group Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance, officially launched Jan. 31 with a petition to Hillel International that had already gathered more than 430 signatures as of press time early Thursday morning..."

The Daily Beast
Open Zion: College Organizing And The BDS Controversy

"Students know that co-sponsorship does not equal endorsement. It has to be that way. If a student group contacts your organization saying they have a speaker they want to bring to campus and would like your co-sponsorship, how can you be sure their speaker will say 100 percent things your organization agrees with? You can't. Thus it's implicitly understood that you will co-sponsor on principle, because you believe this is the type of discussion or event that should be happening at your school. [...] Sharing views, whether or not they are your own, is a worthy thing to do in an academic setting. And you understand that working collaboratively on events is often the only way to afford any programming at all."

"I am against BDS, but I've reached this position through many long, difficult conversations trying to wrap my head around what it is about it that I agree and disagree with. I'm grateful that J Street U, the student wing of the liberal pro-Israel group, gave me the opportunities to hold those discussions, and even exposed me to speakers who do support it in order to challenge me."

Mondoweiss: Harvard Jews battle Hillel's censorship of BDS discussion

"We keep a close eye on community organizing inside the Jewish community because that community is so crucial to the US discourse on the Middle East and because an exciting movement of enlightened younger Jews is now taking on the extremely-conservative leadership of the community over the issue of Palestinian human rights..."

"The second story is more hopeful, a petition at Harvard from Jews to Open Harvard Hillel, to allow discussions about boycott to take place inside the Jewish community. Note that this petition is pleading with Jewish community leaders to allow discussion between Palestinians and Jews on campus..."

Binghamton University Pipe Dream
Op-Ed in the Binghamton University Pipe Dream: Conversation Shouldn't Have Caveats

"Unless Hillel wishes to be just another extremist advocacy group that denies the existence of opposing views, it ought to take a step into reality. Representing the Jewish body of this University carries a certain weight and unless it embraces more open dialogue, Hillel should make clear its political, rather than religious, objectives.

Unyielding support of Israel is not a prerequisite for Judaism and dissenting views are not inherently radical. Organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, have made this school of thought mainstream and have thus strangled reasonable debate and left the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unresolved for far too long. Hillel — especially if it wishes to be a representative organization — should not jump on that bandwagon..."

The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish Daily Forward: Students Protest Hillel's BDS Ban

"A Harvard Jewish student group has launched a national protest of Hillel rules barring partnerships with groups that back boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Local campus Hillels have cited the rules in recent decisions to cancel events, deny recognition to student groups, and, in one case, to expel a student from Hillel leadership..."

"'At Harvard, the Palestinian community is willing to have dialogue, and it saddens me to see Hillel as the roadblock to that,' said Emily Unger, a Harvard senior and a former chair of Harvard's Progressive Jewish Alliance, the group organizing the campaign..."

Binghamton University Pipe Dream
At Binghamton University: Hillel student leader ousted for hosting a pro-BDS speaker

"Leaders of Hillel at Binghamton asked Benjamin Sheridan to resign from two Hillel-related positions after he violated a national Hillel policy — which Hillel believes to preserve pro-Israeli pluralism, but that others say prevents a holistic discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — by bringing a Palestinian activist to speak on campus earlier this semester.

Sheridan organized an open screening of '5 Broken Cameras,' a documentary about non-violent Palestinian activism, and a talk on campus by Iyad Burnat, the brother of the filmmaker who is featured in the film, for Dorm Room Diplomacy (DRD), an apolitical international student organization that coordinates weekly teleconferences between American and Middle Eastern students..."

Tufts Daily
Op-Ed in the Tufts Daily: Is Hillel truly "the foundation for Jewish campus life" for all Jews?
"Hillel is advertised as "the foundation for Jewish campus life." I assumed this meant that Tufts Hillel is a place for all Jews, but recently learned this is not true. Unfortunately, this supposed "foundation for Jewish campus life" is limited to Jews who support Israel in its current form, including the occupation of Palestine and the violence towards people in Gaza. As a Jewish student who is on Tufts Hillel board, a proud member of Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Boston Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), I feel isolated at Hillel. My Jewish identity provides context to my life, my worldview and my experiences. I should feel welcomed at Hillel, especially because my personal opposition to the occupation of Palestine stems from my Jewish values..."
Harvard Political Review
Harvard Political Review: When People Are Occupied
"As part of the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance, I am part of a campaign to 'Open Hillel' by convincing Hillel International to allow co-sponsorships with groups that advocate for boycotts of, divestment from, or sanctions on the state of Israel and the occupied territories. Hillel, which is funded by American Jewish donors like Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston, currently has 'Guidelines for Campus Israel Activities' that explicitly exclude any speakers and organizations that advocate for BDS, whether Jewish or not. In advocating for this rule to be changed so that groups like mine can co-sponsor events with pro-Palestine groups on campuses, I have learned how strong a negative reaction BDS inspires for many American Jews — even those who strongly hope for a just, two-state solution..."
New Voices
Op-Ed in New Voices: Open Dialogue at Hillel?
"Last week, it became painfully clear to the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA) that Hillel is moving farther and farther from being "the foundation of Jewish campus life" that it claims to be..."
The Harvard Crimson
Op-Ed in the Harvard Crimson: An Open Hillel
Members of the Progressive Jewish Alliance write about the importance of co-sponsorship between Jewish and Palestinian groups on campus and why we value inclusivity, dialogue, and free discourse at Harvard Hillel.
Mondoweiss: After Harvard Hillel drops event due to donor pressure, progressive Jewish org calls out 'political litmus test'
"Last Thursday, the Harvard Crimson reported that the Harvard Hillel had dropped an event organized by Harvard's Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA) because the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) was listed as a co-sponsor. The event "Jewish Voices against the Israeli Occupation" was to feature Israeli Jew Noam Lekach and American Jew Jeff Stein discussing activism in Israel/Palestine. Hillel cancelled the event saying that the PSC's co-sponsorship conflicted with Hillel International guidelines which states that Hillel organizations "will not partner with, house, or host organizations, groups, or speakers" that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

In response, PJA has issued the following open letter to the Hillel Community..."
The Harvard Crimson
The Harvard Crimson: Hillel Cancels Event Reservation
"Just a week before an event on Israeli and Palestinian activists' peace efforts was set to take place, Harvard Hillel decided Monday that it would no longer host the discussion after administrators learned a Palestinian student advocacy group was a co-sponsor..."
Open Hillel is a student-run campaign and is not affiliated with Hillel International or any local Hillel.
Website design by Emily Unger.