(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. Joel Berkowitz, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Director of Sam & Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies; Professor of Foreign Languages and Literature
  9. Aaron Berman, Hampshire College, Professor of History
  10. Lila Corwin Berman, Temple University, Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History; Associate Professor, Department of History; Director, Feinstein Center for American Jewish History
  11. David Biale, University of California-Davis, Emanuel Ringelblum Distinguished Professor of Jewish History
  12. Daniel Boyarin, University of California-Berkeley, Hermann P. And Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture, Departments of Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric
  13. Zachary Braiterman, Syracuse University, Professor of Religion
  14. Wendy Brown, University of California-Berkeley, Class of 1936 First Professor of Political Science
  15. Rachel Buff, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Associate Professor of History
  16. Judith Butler, University of California-Berkeley, Maxine Eliot Professor in the Department of Literature and the Program of Critical Theory
  17. Stuart Z. Charmé, Rutgers University, Professor of Religion
  18. 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
  19. Hasia Diner, New York University, Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History; Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies
  20. Matthew Ellis, Sarah Lawrence College, Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Chair in Middle Eastern Studies and International Affairs
  21. Daniel Falk, Penn State University, Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Chaiken Family Chair in Jewish Studies
  22. Marjorie N. Feld, Babson College, Associate Professor of History
  23. Sam Fleischacker, University of Illinois - Chicago, Professor of Philosophy, Director of Jewish Studies
  24. Andrew Friedman, Haverford College, Associate Professor of History
  25. Todd Gitlin, Columbia University, Professor & Chair, Ph.D. Program of Columbia Journalism School
  26. Jennifer Glaser, University of Cincinnati, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature
  27. Frederick Greenspahn, Florida Atlantic University, Gimelstob Eminent Scholar of Judaic Studies
  28. 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
  29. Aaron Hughes, University of Rochester, Philip S. Bernstein Professor of Jewish Studies 
  30. Jonathan Judaken, Rhodes College, Spence L. Wilson Chair in the Humanities
  31. Amy Kaplan, University of Pennsylvania, Edward W. Kane Professor of English
  32. Marion Katz, New York University, Professor of Mdidle Eastern and Islamic Studies; Director of Graduate Studies
  33. Ari Y. Kelman, Stanford University, Jim Joseph Chair in Education and Jewish Studies
  34. Julie Klein, Villanova University, Associate Professor of Philosophy
  35. Kenneth Koltun-Fromm, Haverford College, Professor of Religion
  36. Naomi Koltun-Fromm, Haverford College, Professor of Religion
  37. Stefan Krieger, Hofstra University, Professor Law and Director of Center for Applied Legal Reasoning
  38. Neil Levi, Drew University, Associate Professor of English
  39. Joseph Levine, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Professor of Philosophy
  40. Mark LeVine, University of California - Irvine, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History
  41. Laura S. Levitt, Temple University, Professor of Religion, Jewish Studies and Gender
  42. Caroline Light, Harvard University, Director of Studies and Lecturer on Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality 
  43. Zachary Lockman, New York University, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, History
  44. Alex Lubin, University of New Mexico, Professor and Chair of the American Studies Department
  45. Shaul Magid, Indiana University, Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Chair in Jewish Studies; Professor of Jewish Studies and Religious Studies
  46. Charles H. Manekin, University of Maryland, Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center of Jewish Studies
  47. Jessica Maya Marglin, University of Southern California, Ruth Ziegler Early Career Chair in Jewish Studies and Assistant Professor of Religion 
  48. Shana Minkin, Sewanee: The University of the South, Assistant Professor of International and Global Studies
  49. Larry Moss, Indiana University, Professor of Mathematics, Director of the Program in Pure and Applied Logic  
  50. Harriet L. Murav, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Editor, Slavic Review
  51. David Myers, University of California - Los Angeles, Professor & Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History
  52. Hilton Obenzinger, Stanford University, Emeritus Lecturer
  53. Atalia Omer, Notre Dame University, Associate Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace Studies
  54. Ranen Omer-Sherman, University of Louisville, JHFE Endowed Chair in Judaic Studies
  55. Helen Plotkin, Swarthmore College, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion 
  56. 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
  57. Jeremy Pressman, University of Connecticut, Associate Professor of Political Science, Director of Middle East Program
  58. Shira Robinson, George Washington University, Associate Professor of History and International Affairs
  59. Stephen A. Rosenbaum, University of California-Berkeley, John and Elizabeth Boalt Lecturer
  60. Bruce Rosenstock, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Associate Professor of Religion
  61. Lawrence Rosenwald, Wellesley College, Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of English, Director of Peace & Justice Studies
  62. Michael Rothberg, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Professor of English and Head of the Department of English; Director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies Initiative and a Conrad Humanities Scholar.
  63. Nora Rubel, University of Rochester, Associate Professor, Department of Religion & Classics; Director, Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women's Studies
  64. Barnett Rubin, New York University, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, Center on International Cooperation
  65. Benjamin Schreier, Penn State University, Associate Professor of English and Jewish Studies, Director of Jewish Studies Program
  66. Josh Schreier, Vassar College, Associate Professor of History
  67. Dan Segal, Pitzer College, Jean Pitzer Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History
  68. Lee Sharkey, University of Maine-Farmington, Professor Emeritus of English and Women's Studies
  69. Simona Sharoni, State University of New York - Plattsburgh, Professor of Gender and Women's Studies
  70. Lincoln Z. Shlensky, University of Victoria, Associate Professor of English
  71. 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
  72. Jed Shugerman, Fordham University, Associate Professor of Law
  73. Marc Snir, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Michael Faiman and Saburo Muroga Professor of Computer Science
  74. Eve Spangler, Boston College, Associate Professor of Sociology
  75. Michael Staub, Baruch College, Professor of English
  76. Rebecca L. Stein, Duke University, Nicholas J. & Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Anthropology
  77. Sara Abrevaya Stein, University of California- Los Angeles, Professor and Maurice Amado Endowed Chair in Sephardic Studies
  78. Lior Sternfeld, Penn State University, Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies 
  79. Mira Sucharov, Carleton University, Associate Professor of Political Science
  80. 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
  81. Irene Tucker, University of California - Irvine, Professor of English
  82. Dov Waxman, Northeastern University, Professor of Political Science, International Affairs and Israel Studies; Co-Director, Middle East Center
  83. Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Pomona College, Associate Professor of English and Gender and Women's Studies; Coordinator of Gender and Women's Studies
  84. Alan J. Weisbard, University of Wisconsin, Emeritus Professor of Law, Bioethics, Jewish Studies and Religious Studies
  85. Max Weiss, Princeton University, Associate Professor of History and Near Eastern Studies, Elias Boudinot Bicentennial Preceptor
  86. Diane L. Wolf, University of California-Davis, Professor of Sociology, Director, Jewish Studies Program
  87. Michael Zank, Boston University, Professor of Religion and Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies
  88. Steven Zipperstein, Stanford University, Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History

 

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