Open Hillel History: An Overview
November 2012: Harvard Hillel bars the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance from holding an event with the Palestine Solidarity Committee inside Harvard Hillel. In response, students launch Open Hillel with a petition calling on Hillel International to end its Standards of Partnership for Israel Activities.
December 2013: Swarthmore Hillel passes a resolution stating that they will not follow the Standards of Partnership, becoming the first Open Hillel.
February 2014: The Vassar Jewish Union becomes an Open Hillel.
October 2014: Open Hillel holds a 350-person conference featuring over 40 panels and discussion sessions on a range of topics relating to Israel-Palestine and the American Jewish community. The conference models the open Jewish community we are working to build.
Spring semester 2015: Open Hillel students at over a dozen campuses invite longtime Jewish civil rights and racial justice advocates to speak on campus. On most of these campuses, Hillel bars the speakers because of their views on Israel, sparking widespread protest.
March 2015: Under pressure from major donors, Eric Fingerhut backs out of speaking at the J Street conference. In response, 1,000 students protest outside Hillel International.
March 2015: Open Hillel launches our Rabbinical Council, which now includes 90 members.
November 2015: Open Hillel holds a conference and protest in DC -- the Jewish People’s Assembly -- calling on the Jewish Federations of North America to stop conditioning their support for Jewish life on our communal institutions’ adherence to red lines around Israel-Palestine.
January 2016: Open Hillel launches our Academic Council with fifty-five leading professors. The Academic Council has since grown to well over 100 members.
March 2016: First Open Hillel student organizing workshop takes place at Swarthmore.
May 2016: Brown/RISD students plan a film screening about the Nakba to take place inside Brown/RISD Hillel. When Hillel bars the event and announces that it will close the doors, 70 students enter the building and proceed with the film screening. In their act of “civil disobedience,” the students hold a nuanced and thoughtful discussion of the films.
September 2016: Second Open Hillel student organizing workshop takes place at Wesleyan.
November 2016: Open Hillel launches the #OurJudaismIncludes campaign, calling on Hillel to end its recently-launched, $22 million partnership with Mosaic United. Mosaic is a project of the Israeli Diaspora Ministry that aims to combat “critical discourse” on Israel.
January 2017: The day before inauguration, Open Hillel rallies outside Hillel International’s headquarters in DC calling on Hillel to cut ties with Bennett and Mosaic; stand up for democratic values; and support students in building bonds of solidarity with other faith and cultural groups.
March 2017: B’nai Keshet, the queer Jewish group at Ohio State University, co-sponsors a purim fundraiser for LGBTQ refugees in the Columbus, Ohio area with fifteen other student and community groups. Because JVP is one of the co-sponsoring groups, under pressure from Hillel International, OSU Hillel expels B’nai Keshet. B’nai Keshet builds local and national support, and their annual rainbow seder is their largest ever. Across the country, students hold “solidarity shabbats” with B’nai Keshet.
April 2017: At the third Open Hillel student organizing workshop at NYU, students rally in Battery Park, NYC, in support of B’nai Keshet.
May 2017: WashU and Princeton Hillels bar Breaking the Silence. Open Hillel condemns these actions as demonstrating the harmful effects of Hillel’s partnership with Mosaic.
May 2017: The Williams College Jewish Association passes a resolution calling on Hillel International to readmit B’nai Keshet.
June 2017: In an open letter, over 100 Rabbis call on Hillel to end its Standards of Partnership, cut ties with Mosaic United, and readmit B’nai Keshet.
July 2017: At Open Hillel’s fourth student workshop (at NYU), students rally outside the Israeli Embassy and call on Hillel International to #FireBennett and cut ties with Mosaic United.
August 2017: Hillel International announces its merger with the David Project, a right-wing pro-Israel advocacy organization.
October 2017: Fifth Open Hillel student organizing workshop takes place at Harvard.
November 2017: Hillel International endorses Kenneth Marcus, Trump’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education.
January 2018: Sixth Open Hillel student organizing workshop takes place at Bryn Mawr.
August 2018: Open Hillel launches the Judaism On Our Own Terms (JOOOT) initiative, working to support independent and student-run Jewish communities on college campuses.
August 2018: Open Hillel co-organizes the first Judaism On Our Own Terms workshop, bringing together students from independent Jewish communities across North America.
September 2018: Open Hillel demands that Hillel International cut ties with the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), after the Forward reports that the ICC spied on Open Hillel’s 2016 Wesleyan workshop.