DENVER (Jan. 13)
B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations in the American universities have halted the process of assimilation among Jews in the United States, Rabbi Harry Kaplan, Hillel director to the Ohio State University declared here.
Speaking at a public meeting, he contrasted the atmosphere among Jewish collagens in the 1920′s and the middle 1950′s. Over 30 years ago, when Hillel was organized at Illinois University to stem the tide of assimilation, indifference and ignorance about Judaism among Jewish students, first-generation young American Jews were asking: “Why remain Jews? ” Many saw assimilation as the way out for their problems of adjustment in thee so-called “melting pot. “
Today, second and third generation Jewish college students talk and think differently, Rabbi Kaplan asserted. While they may rush to Hillel activities in numbers satisfying their elders, nevertheless they don’t ask the assimilationist questions pressed by their parents in another age. Today’s collegians take their Jewishness for granted. They accept their Hebraic heritage and their kinship to the Jewish people as normally as their loyalty to America. They show an ease about their religion, and while much still must be done to overcome ignorance and indifference even in today’s religious revival, the potential is there for rich Jewish affiliation, the Hillel director asserted.
Rabbi Kaplan pointed out that in the past three decades, the Hillel Foundation, now providing Jewish study, discussion, social life and other activities on 200 U. S. campuses, has provided the stimulus for the development of many dedicated Jewish professional and lay leaders, including large numbers of rabbis, welfare fund and social service executive directors, officers of B’nai B’rith, Hadassah, Council of Jewish Women, Zionist, synagogue, temple and Allied Campaign organizations throughout the country.