ANN ARBOR, Mich., (Nov. 24)
The main challenge which Jewish religious workers on the college campus are facing in 1952 is not the challenge of young Jews seeking to escape their Jewishness, as was the case in the twenties, but of young Jews who do not know what to do with their Jewishness, Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, national director of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations, told the annual meeting of the National Hillel Commission here today.
In his annual report to the Commission on the work of the 207 Hillel units in the United States and Canada, Rabbi Lelyveld described what he called the “third era” in contemporary history and in Hillel history which began in 1948. With Hitlerism routed, the camps for displaced Jews emptied and the State of Israel an accomplished fact, “both young people and adults began to wonder what they were going to do with their Jewish loyalties, ” he declared.
This contrasts, he pointed out, with the “first period ” halted by the rise of Hitlerism, when young people were leaving the Jewish fold in a “terrifying hemorrhage” for cosmopolitanism, Marxism, conversion, intermarriage and other ” solutions”; and the second era, overshadowed by the menace of physical extermination, the effort to rescue our brethren in Europe, and the struggle for Israel, “when Jewish life reached a new peak of intensity.”
To meet the new challenge, Rabbi Lelyveld said, Hillel must now build a program “rich and creative enough to match the distinction and beauty of our new buildings in which we take such pride.” The meeting of the Commission coincides with the dedication of a new $360,000 Hillel building on the Michigan campus, where the Foundation recently celebrated its 27th anniversary.
A budget of $1,202,300 to operate the 207 Hillel Foundations during 1953 was presented to the Commission by Rabbi Lelyveld. He announced that the Foundations now own 41 buildings with an approximate value of $3,422,850 and that three additional buildings worth $515,000 are now under construction.