WASHINGTON (Dec. 2)
The National Commission of B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations affirmed today “the right and obligation” of its campus directors to counsel students on “conscientious objection, selective conscientious objection and the draft.” Another Commission policy statement approved use of Hillel’s “facilities and resources” by all Jewish student groups on campus “dedicated to valid Jewish purposes” whether or not they are affiliated with the Hillel movement.
The Commission took formal action to “provide hospitality” to programs and activities on campus by National Jewish Organizations. The Commission deplored, however, the efforts of national Jewish groups to establish “competitive and duplicative” activities on campus.
Prof. Marver H. Bernstein of Princeton University, chairman of the Commission, explained that the personal convictions of a Hillel director on military service “should not–and do not–enter into the counselling relationship. The director’s role requires that he assist those who come to him to understand the various options inherent in Judaic teachings. The ultimate decision is up to the student himself.” Prof. Bernstein pointed out that the Commission does not itself take a pro or con position on issues involving individual conscience.
Noting a “growing community acceptance of responsibility” for the communal needs of Jewish students, the Commission adopted as policy action “the further encouragement” of local Hillel advisory boards that would include “all segments of the Jewish community–federations, the rabbinate, Jewish education, college faculties, B’nai B’rith and students.”
Rabbi Benjamin M. Kahn, National Hillel Director, said it was necessary to involve all areas of Jewish life in the problems of the campus “without further fragmentizing” in competition for “the soul of the Jewish student.” He said the threat of “duplicating programs” that arose years ago out of religious denominationalism “has now shifted to secular organizations.” He said the issue “was not a case of protecting any exclusivity on campus by the Hillel foundations but a matter of bringing all segments of the Jewish community together for the sake and benefit of our youth on campus.”
NEW PROJECTS TO ‘REACH OUT’ TO ALIENATED YOUTH ON THE CAMPUS
The Commission disclosed it is making a determined effort to “reach out” to alienated Jewish youth on the American college campuses. The shape of the effort was outlined in a series of actions which included a pilot project in which a young rabbinical student with a background in New Left activities will serve, without Hillel affiliation, on a Midwestern campus that lacks any Jewish institutions. The project will seek to determine whether such an individual can have greater impact than a Hillel director or other formal representative of the established Jewish community, on Jewish students who are hostile to the organized community and its concerns and if he can help them re-assess their attitudes. The program will also provide Hillel directors at several large universities with several graduate students who will meet with Jewish undergraduates in dormitories, student centers and coffee houses– away from the formal Hillel “beat”
The determination to reach alienated youth was expressed in a speech by Rabbi Kahn who warned the adult Jewish community against pinning “unjustified generalizations and misleading labels” on the college generation. Rabbi Kahn said that the adult community’s “tendency to resist change and therefore be suspicious of the authors of change has led it into lumping the dynamism and rhetoric of the campus into a monolithic mold without recognizing the diversity of views, attitudes and goals that exist among students.”
The commission announced a $500,000 gift from Joseph Meyerhoff, of Baltimore, toward construction of new Hillel facilities on the restored Hebrew University campus on Mt. Scopus and at the University of Maryland and for the expansion of Hillel information programs about Israel on American campuses.