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Jewish Enrollment at Colleges Hit Peak; Hillel Asks More Federation Aid on Campuses

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Jewish enrollment at American colleges increased about 5 percent for the current school year, underscoring the status of the campus as a growing element of the Jewish community. B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations reported here. Hillel officials, attending the annual meeting of their national commission, estimated that 350,000 Jewish students — about 80 percent of the Jewish college-age population — are attending school.

A sampling of enrollment records at 34 of the 79 major American universities where full-time Hillel Foundation programs are maintained, and 50 of the 163 smaller schools which have Hillel counselorship (part-time directors) showed that Jewish enrollments at the large schools had advanced 2.3 percent and — continuing a trend of recent years — had jumped 15 percent at smaller institutions, many of which had only a scattering, if any, Jewish students five years ago.

Prof. Louis Gottschalk, of the University of Illinois, Hillel’s national chairman, noting that an estimated 125,000 Jewish students attend schools which lack Hillel programs, warned that “the quantitative gap is likely to widen without stronger support — particularly from Jewish federations and welfare funds — for the growing Jewish community on the campus.”

Dr. Gottschalk added that “many of the so-called small colleges are no longer small in terms of Jewish enrollment. Forty-four of 310 colleges whose requests for Hillel programs are still unfilled each have 500 or more Jewish students.”

The Hillel commission, in a resolution, strongly encouraged “the participation of welfare funds, community councils and national organizations” to assist with funds and programmatic resources in strengthening the Jewish campus community through Hillel’s functional operations.”

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