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Hillel Parley Discusses Jewish Students’ Needs; Votes $1,750,000 Budget

November 27, 1959
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Lessening of external and economic pressures in the American community is allowing Jewish youth to cease being “escapist,” Dr. William Haber, chairman of B’nai B’rith’s Hillel Foundations said today at a meeting of the National Hillel Commission. The new security, he said, “has dissolved apologetics and relieved external pressures on the Jewish student.”

Dr. Haber warned, however, that students whose Jewish identification may have resulted from these pressures “now must seek the reason why they are Jews.” He said that, to be Jews, young people must take an initiative in this regard that was not required of grandparents who enjoyed Eastern Europe’s rich Jewish tradition. He stressed that American-born parents do not have this contact with the past. Their children arrive at college “not knowing of the history, poetry, literature, art and theology of the Jews,” he said.

Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, a former national Hillel head, criticized national agencies whose “zealous efforts” to organize students along denominational lines are creating “denominational rifts.” Stressing the danger of “fragmentization and organizational competition,” he characterized Hillel as a uniting agency where Jewish students can learn both about their ideological differences and the importance of their common faith.

Rabbi Robert Gordis, speaking on the same problem, said Hillel directors must make it clear to each Jewish group that it has an obligation to its own intellectual integrity and a commitment to recognize that other groups have something of value to contribute. He termed Hillel “the only agency on the campus” that can deal with Jewish denominational loyalties without sacrificing the unity of Jewish commitments. Rabbi Joseph Lookstein said the loser in an inter-denominational battle would be the Jewish community.

In announcing a $1,750,000 budget for 1960, national Hillel director Rabbi Benjamin M. Kahn made known that Hillel has 170 requests for its service which cannot now be met. He pointed out that there are presently many Hillel units with four times as many students as in 1930 but without a proportionate increase in professional staff.

Rabbi Kahn called for additional support from the Jewish community so that Hillel could continue and expand its program of cultural and religious activities on 217 college campuses in the United States and abroad. The Hillel Commission re-elected Dr. Haber as chairman; Joseph L. Paradise, New York, vice chairman; Philip W. Lown, Boston, treasurer, and Maurice Bisgyer, Washington, D.C., secretary.

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