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Only 25 Percent of Colorado Jewish Students Attend Hillel Functions

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Only 25 percent of the approximately 400 Jewish students at Colorado University attend “major” functions at the new Hillel House at Boulder, near this city, Rabbi Milton Elefant, Hillel director at the university, told a seminar on “Ethics on Campus.” Student attendance at Hebrew classes and at “significant” discussion groups is even lower, Rabbi Elefant declared.

Another speaker in the seminar, Prof. Irving Mehler, of Denver University Law School, said that, “at best,” only 70 of the 300 Jewish students at Denver University participate in cultural discussions conducted by Hillel at the University. On the other hand, Dr. Mehler stated, he is “encouraged by Hillel’s current inroads” among Jewish fraternity members.

Agreeing with other speakers in the seminar, who held that the basic fault for student non-identification with Judaism must be attributed to the atmosphere in the homes whence these students stem, Dr. Elefant said there is a “tendency among Jewish students to seek acceptance by non-Jews, to bowing down instead of standing up to Jewish ideals.”

Another member of the Denver University faculty, Dr. Bernard Spilka, professor of psychology, and part-time Hillel counsellor, was somewhat more optimistic. “Granted an aversion to ritual and holiday observance by a substantial number of Jewish students,” he asserted, “this does not denote a rejection of Jewish values, but partially a lack of information regarding the role of such behavior in Judaic tradition, plus an element of immaturity.”

At another meeting, conducted by the Phi Sigma Delta fraternity regional alumni association, Robert S. Gamzey, editor of the Intermountain Jewish News, suggested that “American Judaism’s stakes are so high that every resource on the campus should be utilized to reach the Jewish collegian with a minimum of Judaic knowledge and inspiration.”

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