The amount of $65,000 was raised at the “Hillel Night” which inaugurated the campaign of the Wider Scope Committee of the Independent Order B’nai Brith in New York City. A quota of $100,000 annually for five years is sought. The toastmaster of the dinner held at the Hotel Astor was Leonard J. Obermeier, who was introduced by Maurice P. Davidson, chairman of the New York Wider Scope Committee.
Dr. Edward Chauncey Baldwin of the University of Illinois and Alferd M. Cohen, president of the order, were the principal speakers. Rabbi Nathan Krass of Temple Emanu-El made the appeal. Rabbi Louis I. Newman of San Francisco addressed the gathering. About six hundred guests were present.
Prof. Baldwin, who is credited with being the father of the Hillel Foundation idea, told how the Hillel Foundation was started at the University of Illinois and of the progress made.
“Whereas six years ago over sixty percent of the Jewish students registered as having ‘no religious preference,’ this year practically every Jewish student is listed at the office of the registrar as ‘Jewish,’” Dr. Baldwin declared.
“Of these Jewish students there are registered nearly seven hundred, of which about eighty percent are reached by some type of activity that goes on at the Hillel Foundation, either religious, social, recreational, or intellectual. The classes taught by Dr. Jung, and for which university credit is given, have a registration of nearly forty students, though they are open only to upper-classmen who have good grades. I have myself visited these classes and cannot speak too highly of the work Dr. Jung is doing.
“Hillel is really accomplishing its purpose in training Jewish youth for leadership in the communities in which after graduation they will live. Yet, after all, the great accomplishment of Hillel is not in the activities I have mentioned, but in something more intangible. I refer to the development of Jewish self-respect. After all, however, what has been accomplished is only a beginning–a promise, not a fulfillment of the hopes and plans of those who started the movement.
“Our idea was to mobilize the splendid energies of Jwish youth for two purposes,” Dr. Baldwin continued. “First, to solve the problem of Judaism here in America. And this means to solve the problem of what Judaism is to become in the modern world, because there are more Jews here in America than there ever have been anywhere since the Dispersion, and they are more free to work out their destiny than they ever have been anywhere else. Just what American Judaism will become I do not pretend to know. Of one thing I am certain–it will be what these young people now in our colleges and universities make of it. My guess is that it will be neither Orthodox or Reform, but more American than either. I hope and believe that it will be a united Judaism. The bane of Judaism, like the bane of Christendom, is the differences that separate men of varying opinions into warring camps.
“Secondly, we wanted to see the splendid energies of Jewish youth mobilized to serve the world at large–to fulfill the mission of the race. That Israel’s work for the world has not yet been completed I cannot help but believe. The preservation of the race through centuries of suffering has not been due to stubbornness or accident. I believe, on the contrary, with the prophet Isaiah that history is more than an unrelated succession of fortuitous events–that it is the working out of a divine plan which will have for its culmination the establishment on the earth of the kingdom of God. Nor can I bring myself to believe that Israel has been disciplined by centuries of suffering for any other purpose than that it might become equipped thereby to play an important role in the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth,” he concluded.