(January 2016) - Open Hillel is proud to announce the formation of its Academic Council, an initial group of fifty-five professors across the United States and Canada. They are specialists in a range of fields, and the group includes many highly regarded scholars of Israel-Palestine and Jewish America. The Council features department chairs, columnists, and public intellectuals. They are secular, religious and spiritual; and they hold a diverse range of views on Israel-Palestine. What unites them is not a particular political stance but a shared commitment to promoting open discourse in their classrooms and on their campuses.

The professors of the Academic Council have all affirmed the following statement:

“As an academic, I support Open Hillel’s efforts to restore the values of critical inquiry, inclusivity, and disputation to Jewish campus communities. Hillel International's Standards of Partnership narrowly circumscribe discourse about Israel-Palestine and only serve to foster estrangement from the organized Jewish community. Regardless of my own political beliefs, I reject any attempts to stifle conversation about Israel-Palestine, ostracize student or faculty activists, or monitor the speech of students or intellectuals inside Hillel and the campus ­at ­large. Just as our classrooms must be spaces that embrace diversity of experience and opinion, so must Hillel. By joining Open Hillel's academic council, I affirm my commitment to bringing these values to life both in my classroom and in my community.”

Hillel has historically promoted the academic values of free discourse and open debate. In 1971, the head of Hillel’s Israel department declared that “the healthy desire of students to hear ‘all sides of the question’ obligates Hillel to welcome many responsible speakers to its platform.”[1] For decades, Hillel’s Board of Directors featured many professors and educators: individuals committed to helping students wrestle with ideas in accordance with the best of our Jewish and academic traditions.

Yet, in recent years, Hillel has pushed out many of these board members and replaced them with far wealthier donors -- individuals who lack their predecessors’ respect for academic freedom and who seek to enforce their own right-wing ideologies. Along with this change in leadership, Hillel has changed its attitudes and policies, turning from promoting open discourse on Israel-Palestine to stifling such discourse. In 2010, Hillel enacted its Standards of Partnership for Israel Activities, barring speakers and events deemed too critical of Israel. Professors are now subjected to Hillel International’s litmus tests before being allowed to speak in Hillel houses on their own campuses. Tragically, these Standards have served to estrange professors and students alike from organized Jewish life.

Hillel’s recent aggressive attempts to police discourse about Israel place it in direct conflict with the spirit of the academy. Hillel is forcing an unnecessary and destructive choice between academic freedom and membership in the Jewish community. In forming this Council, professors are publicly joining students in fighting back to restore the principle of open discourse in Jewish campus communities. They will partner with students across the country as speakers, advisers, and interlocutors around these questions. We are excited about the many ways in which students and faculty will work together to make their Hillels, once again, places of open discussion and debate.

If you would like to work individually with any professors on our Council, please feel free to contact the professor directly or e-mail openhillel@gmail.com. If you are an academic and are interested in learning more about the work on the Council, please feel free to contact Open Hillel as well.

(We update this list as new academics join.)

  1. Emily Abel, University of California-Los Angeles, Professor Emerita of Health Services and Women's Studies

  2. Thomas Abowd, Tufts University, Lecturer of American Studies, Anthropology, and Arabic

  3. David Abraham, University of Miami, Professor of Law

  4. Elisabeth Anker, George Washington University, Associate Professor of American Studies and Political Science

  5. Sa'ed Atshan, Swarthmore College, Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies

  6. Peter Beinart, City University of New York, Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science

  7. Joel Beinin, Stanford University, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle Eastern History

  8. Naor Ben-Yehoyada, Columbia University, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

  9. Joel Berkowitz, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Director of Sam & Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies; Professor of Foreign Languages and Literature

  10. Aaron Berman, Hampshire College, Professor of History

  11. Lila Corwin Berman, Temple University, Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History; Associate Professor, Department of History; Director, Feinstein Center for American Jewish History

  12. David Biale, University of California-Davis, Emanuel Ringelblum Distinguished Professor of Jewish History

  13. Daniel Boyarin, University of California-Berkeley, Hermann P. And Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture, Departments of Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric

  14. Zachary Braiterman, Syracuse University, Professor of Religion

  15. Wendy Brown, University of California-Berkeley, Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science

  16. Rachel Buff, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Associate Professor of History

  17. Judith Butler, University of California-Berkeley, Maxine Eliot Professor in the Department of Literature and the Program of Critical Theory

  18. Stuart Z. Charmé, Rutgers University, Professor of Religion

  19. Sjimon R. den Hollander, Hunter College, Adjunct Professor of Classical & Oriental Studies

  20. Nathaniel Deutsch, University of California - Santa Cruz, Professor of History, Co-Director of the Center for Jewish Studies and the Director of the Institute for Humanities Research

  21. Hasia Diner, New York University, Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History; Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies

  22. Matthew Ellis, Sarah Lawrence College, Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Chair in Middle Eastern Studies and International Affairs

  23. Daniel Falk, Penn State University, Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Chaiken Family Chair in Jewish Studies

  24. Marjorie N. Feld, Babson College, Associate Professor of History

  25. Sam Fleischacker, University of Illinois - Chicago, Professor of Philosophy, Director of Jewish Studies

  26. Andrew Friedman, Haverford College, Associate Professor of History

  27. Todd Gitlin, Columbia University, Professor & Chair, Ph.D. Program of Columbia Journalism School

  28. Jennifer Glaser, University of Cincinnati, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature

  29. Frederick Greenspahn, Florida Atlantic University, Gimelstob Eminent Scholar of Judaic Studies

  30. Aaron Hahn Tapper, University of San Francisco, Mae and Benjamin Swig Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and
    Director, Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice

  31. Liora Halperin, University of Washington, Associate Professor of International Studies, History, and Jewish Studies and Jack and Rebecca Benaroya Endowed Chair of Israel Studies

  32. Aaron Hughes, University of Rochester, Philip S. Bernstein Professor of Jewish Studies

  33. Jonathan Judaken, Rhodes College, Spence L. Wilson Chair in the Humanities

  34. Amy Kaplan, University of Pennsylvania, Edward W. Kane Professor of English

  35. Marion Kaplan, New York University, Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History

  36. Carolyn L. Karcher, Temple University, Professor Emerita of English, American Studies, and Women's Studies

  37. Marion Katz, New York University, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies; Director of Graduate Studies

  38. Ari Y. Kelman, Stanford University, Jim Joseph Chair in Education and Jewish Studies

  39. Julie Klein, Villanova University, Associate Professor of Philosophy

  40. Kenneth Koltun-Fromm, Haverford College, Professor of Religion

  41. Naomi Koltun-Fromm, Haverford College, Professor of Religion

  42. Stefan Krieger, Hofstra University, Professor Law and Director of Center for Applied Legal Reasoning

  43. Neil Levi, Drew University, Associate Professor of English

  44. Joseph Levine, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Professor of Philosophy

  45. Mark LeVine, University of California - Irvine, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History

  46. Laura S. Levitt, Temple University, Professor of Religion, Jewish Studies and Gender

  47. Caroline Light, Harvard University, Director of Studies and Lecturer on Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality

  48. Zachary Lockman, New York University, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, History

  49. Alex Lubin, University of New Mexico, Professor and Chair of the American Studies Department

  50. Shaul Magid, Indiana University, Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Chair in Jewish Studies; Professor of Jewish Studies and Religious Studies

  51. Charles H. Manekin, University of Maryland, Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center of Jewish Studies

  52. Jessica Maya Marglin, University of Southern California, Ruth Ziegler Early Career Chair in Jewish Studies and Assistant Professor of Religion

  53. Shana Minkin, Sewanee: The University of the South, Assistant Professor of International and Global Studies

  54. Larry Moss, Indiana University, Professor of Mathematics, Director of the Program in Pure and Applied Logic

  55. Harriet L. Murav, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Editor, Slavic Review

  56. David Myers, University of California - Los Angeles, Professor & Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History

  57. Hilton Obenzinger, Stanford University, Emeritus Lecturer

  58. Atalia Omer, Notre Dame University, Associate Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace Studies

  59. Ranen Omer-Sherman, University of Louisville, JHFE Endowed Chair in Judaic Studies

  60. Helen Plotkin, Swarthmore College, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion

  61. Todd Presner, University of California-Los Angeles, Professor of Germanic Languages, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies; Sady and Ludwig Kahn Director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies; Chair of Digital Humanities

  62. Jeremy Pressman, University of Connecticut, Associate Professor of Political Science, Director of Middle East Program

  63. Shira Robinson, George Washington University, Associate Professor of History and International Affairs

  64. Stephen A. Rosenbaum, University of California-Berkeley, John and Elizabeth Boalt Lecturer

  65. Bruce Rosenstock, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Associate Professor of Religion

  66. Lawrence Rosenwald, Wellesley College, Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of English, Director of Peace & Justice Studies

  67. Michael Rothberg, University of California- Los Angeles, Professor of English and Comparative Literature; 1939 Society Samuel Goetz Chair in Holocaust Studies.

  68. Nora Rubel, University of Rochester, Associate Professor, Department of Religion & Classics; Director, Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women's Studies

  69. Barnett Rubin, New York University, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Center on International Cooperation

  70. Benjamin Schreier, Penn State University, Associate Professor of English and Jewish Studies, Director of Jewish Studies Program

  71. Josh Schreier, Vassar College, Associate Professor of History

  72. Dan Segal, Pitzer College, Jean Pitzer Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History

  73. Lee Sharkey, University of Maine-Farmington, Professor Emeritus of English and Women's Studies

  74. Simona Sharoni, State University of New York - Plattsburgh, Professor of Gender and Women's Studies

  75. Lincoln Z. Shlensky, University of Victoria, Associate Professor of English

  76. Jeffrey Shoulson, University of Connecticut, Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies; Director, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life; Professor of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages; Professor of English

  77. Jed Shugerman, Fordham University, Associate Professor of Law

  78. Marc Snir, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Michael Faiman and Saburo Muroga Professor of Computer Science

  79. Eve Spangler, Boston College, Associate Professor of Sociology

  80. Michael Staub, Baruch College, Professor of English

  81. Rebecca L. Stein, Duke University, Nicholas J. & Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Anthropology

  82. Sarah Abrevaya Stein, University of California- Los Angeles, Professor and Maurice Amado Endowed Chair in Sephardic Studies

  83. Lior Sternfeld, Penn State University, Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies

  84. Mira Sucharov, Carleton University, Associate Professor of Political Science

  85. Nina Tannenwald, Brown University, Faculty Fellow at the Watson Institute and Director of the International Relations Program; Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science

  86. Irene Tucker, University of California - Irvine, Professor of English

  87. Dov Waxman, Northeastern University, Professor of Political Science, International Affairs and Israel Studies; Co-Director, Middle East Center

  88. Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Pomona College, Associate Professor of English and Gender and Women's Studies; Coordinator of Gender and Women's Studies

  89. Alan J. Weisbard, University of Wisconsin, Emeritus Professor of Law, Bioethics, Jewish Studies and Religious Studies

  90. Max Weiss, Princeton University, Associate Professor of History and Near Eastern Studies, Elias Boudinot Bicentennial Preceptor

  91. Diane L. Wolf, University of California-Davis, Professor of Sociology, Director, Jewish Studies Program

  92. Steven Zipperstein, Stanford University, Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History

  93. Alice Sardell, Queens College, Professor of Urban Studies

  94. Chaya Halberstam, King's University College at the University of Western Ontario, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

  95. Gershon Shafir, University of California-San Diego, Professor of Sociology, Director of UCSD Human Rights Minor

  96. Seth Sanders, University of California-Davis, Professor of Religion

  97. Marty Roth, University of Minnesota, Emeritus Professor of English and American Studies

  98. Jonathan Graubart, San Diego State University, Professor of Political Science

  99. Kenneth Pomeranz, University of Chicago, Professor of History

  100. Daniel J. Levine, University of Alabama, Professor of Political Science

  101. Nancy Kalow, Duke University, Instructor, Center for Documentary Studies

  102. Santiago Slabodsky, Hofstra University, Florence and Robert Kaufman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies, Associate Director Center for Race, Culture and Social Justice

  103. Jeffrey Blutinger, California State University- Long Beach, Barbara and Ray Alpert Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies, Director of the Jewish Studies Program

  104. Dean Franco, Wake Forest University, Professor of English, Director of Jewish Studies, Director of Humanities Institute

  105. Joshua Shanes, College of Charleston, Associate Professor, Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program,

  106. Shari L. Rabin, College of Charleston, Assistant Professor, Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program; Acting Director, Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture

  107. Joshua Cooper, University of South Carolina, Professor, Department of Mathematics

  108. Annalise Elizabeth Glauz-Todrank, Wake Forest University, Assistant Professor, Department for the Study of Religions

  109. Robin Podolsky, California State University- Long Beach, Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies

  110. Liora R. Halperin, University of Washington - Seattle, Associate Professor of International Studies, History, and Jewish Studies, Jack and Rebecca Benaroya Endowed Chair in Israel Studies

  111. Jodi Melamed, Marquette University, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies

  112. Benjamin Siegel, Boston University, Assistant Professor of History

  113. Barry C. Trachtenberg, Rubin Presidential Chair of Jewish History, Director, Jewish Studies Program
    Wake Forest University, Department of History

  114. Bob Lamm, New York University, Instructor, Center for Applied Liberal Arts, School of Professional Studies

  115. Libby Garland, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York, Associate Professor of History 

  116. Sally D. Charnow, Hofstra University, Professor of History


[1] “Hillel Directors Discuss Problems.” Jewish Exponent, January 22, 1971: 21.