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Hillel Foundations Begin Recruiting Qualified Non-rabbinic Personnel

December 23, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations, in a break with the traditional practice of staffing its campus units almost exclusively with rabbis, has begun during the past year to recruit qualified group and social workers, young academicians and other non-rabbinic personnel with talents for organizing community groups to cope with the widely diverse needs of an expanding Jewish community.

Dr. Alfred Jospe, whose appointment as Hillel national director was announced today, told a conference of Hillel directors here that the new staffing procedures–which have already recruited six non-rabbis, all in their twenties–have been initiated “to deal with the task of creating techniques of mass Jewish education in a voluntary setting, something never tried before.”

The “explosive Jewish growth” on the campus, estimated currently at 400,000 students, “makes the pattern of a single rabbi, defined as a campus ministry primarily in theological terms,” a weakened approach for a school with several thousand Jewish enrollees, Dr. Jospe said. Proposing experimental efforts with “Hillel teams” on major campuses where Jewish enrollment is both “massive and diverse.” Dr. Jospe said the skills of non-rabbinic specialists who are firmly committed to Jewish continuity can mean a more effective force “in motivating Jewish students to involve themselves in the kinds of activities that reflect their generation’s quest for ethnic identity.”

Thus, while some non-rabbis might serve alone on smaller campuses, others will supplement the efforts of the ordained Hillel staffers on large campuses where many allenated students look upon rabbis as part of the establishment.

The changing character of the Jewish campus chaplaincy was evidenced in the composition of the 103 Hillel directors from 90 major colleges and universities participating in the sessions here. For 33 members of the group, it was their first conference, indicating that they had entered Hillel service within the past two years. Dr. Jospe, who is a Reform rabbi, has served with the Hillel movement for 31 years, the past 22 as its director of programs and resources. He succeeds Rabbi Benjamin M. Kahn, who earlier this month was appointed executive vice-president of B’nai B’rith.

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