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Hillel Sponsoring ‘free University’ at Three Universities

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The B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation of Greater Washington will conduct a “Free University of Jewish Studies” at three local campuses during the spring semester, beginning next Monday. The campuses involved are those of George Washington and American Universities here and the University of Maryland in College Park. The three have a total Jewish enrollment of 10,000 students, according to Rabbi Sam Fishman, Hillel director for Israel and community affairs. He said there were 3,000 Jewish students at George Washington (which has a total enrollment of 5,200), 2,500 at American (4,500 total) and 4,500 at Maryland (23,000 total). Similar “free universities” are functioning on more than a dozen campuses across the country, according to a Hillel report. Any students of college age, whether enrolled in the three above-named universities or not, are eligible for the “Free University of Jewish Studies.” They will determine the times and settings for each class themselves. So far, 17 courses have been scheduled, with others to be added in response to student requests, according to Hillel. The 17 courses include reconstructionist thought, basic Judaism, elementary and advanced Hebrew, beginning Yiddish, the impact of Yiddish literature on Jewish socialism, the philosophy of Martin Buber, alternate lifestyles, modern Jewish philosophy, the literature of the Mishna, Zionist theory and Jewish free theater.

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