Public Letter to Hillel International

January 19, 2017

Dear Eric Fingerhut and Hillel International Senior Staff,

Today, on January 19th, Open Hillel is leading a rally outside your doors affirming the Jewish values of Tzedek and Kavod, justice and dignity. As the US prepares to inaugurate a president who threatens basic democratic values, we invite you to join us in renouncing exclusion, bigotry, and censorship by ending your partnership with Naftali Bennett and his Mosaic United initiative.

As Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and others who espouse hate gain power in our country, we must recognize the urgency and danger of this moment. Now, more than ever, Jewish institutions must uphold and reflect our community’s core values.

Our Jewish institutions should be at the center of our resistance to hate and oppression. Instead, Hillel International is choosing to partner with Naftali Bennett, an Israeli cabinet minister who promotes racism, misogyny, and homophobia and silences his critics. Bennett’s similarities to our incoming president are undeniable.

Through Mosaic, a $66 million initiative, Bennett and his allies aim to shut down open discourse on Israel/Palestine and impose their narrow vision of Jewish identity on college campuses. While we work to build communities that welcome people from all backgrounds and walks of life, Naftali Bennett works to impose red lines that police Jewish belonging.  

By partnering with Mosaic, you, Hillel International, are embracing Bennett’s anti-democratic values and vision for Jewish life. Bennett wants our Jewish institutions to stifle dissent; to invalidate the Jewish identities of queer, non-Orthodox, and multicultural Jewish students; and to normalize racism and Islamophobia.

By partnering with Mosaic, you, Hillel International, are alienating countless Jewish students from the Jewish community on campus.

By partnering with Mosaic, you, Hillel International, are forcing Jewish students to choose between pursuing social justice and being part of the Jewish community.

And by partnering with Mosaic, you, Hillel International, are building a wall between the Jewish community and other faith, cultural, and political groups who are working to build a more just and inclusive American society.  

At this moment of urgency, we call on you to join us in affirming the fundamental values of inclusion, open discourse and partnership with marginalized communities. We call on you to publicly end your partnership with Mosaic United. As Trump, Bannon, and Bennett promote a vision of exclusion and hate; we call on you, Hillel International, to pursue a vision of inclusion, hope, and justice. We call on you to join us in inaugurating a better future for the Jewish community.