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Three-day Conference on Activities Among Jewish Students Opens at Brandeis University

A three-day conference devoted to strengthening spiritual and religious values among Jewish students in American universities and colleges opened today at Brandeis University, attended by 67 directors of B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations.

This is the first post-war national conference of Hillel Foundation directors who conduct activities on 197 university and college campuses. Delegates from more than 28 states and from Canada and Cuba are among those attending the parley. The Hillel Foundations, now in their twenty-sixth year of operation, provide cultural, religious and counselling activities to more than 150,000 Jewish students each year.

In opening the conference, Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld, national director of the Hillel Foundations, said that “Hillel and other voluntary student agencies must battle first of all to prevent the growth of hysteria which would narrow the intellectual horizons of our colleges and universities and must keep undimmed and untarnished the spiritual values which the agency represents.” Dr. Abram L. Sachar, president of Brandeis University and chairman of the National Hillel Commission, sounded the keynote to the three-day meeting when he called for educators to “create a spiritual anchorage” for their students.

“The largest problem faced by the educator today is to meet what amounts to a failure of nerve on the part of large groups of the younger generation,” Dr. Sachar stated. “So many young people function in a climate of disillusionment. They have the feeling that they were born in a time that is out of joint and that they are trapped by the inevitability of economic disaster; that man is only a cockleshell on the sea of circumstances. Fully as important as the training of skills and talents is the task of the educator to create spiritual anchorage, faith in the solvability of human problems, in the control of man over his destiny.”

Frank Goldman, president of B’nai B’rith and Maurice Bisgyer, secretary, also addressed the delegates. The role of Hillel in strengthening the spiritual and religious values of the college student was discussed during today’s session by Rabbi Herman Pollack, director of the Brooklyn College Hillel Foundation. In his address “What is the Nature of the Hillel Community,” Rabbi Pollack analyzed the operation of the voluntary student community, the function of the director, the significance of student government, and the scope of the program.

Rabbi Benjamin Kahn, director of Hillel at Pennsylvania State College, pointed out the danger of the unqualified conception of Hillel as a community, offering hospitality to every type of activity. He insisted that Hillel directors must meet the responsibility for determining a scale of values in its student communities.

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