Jewish college students have changed dramatically since we were students.
* Half have one parent who was not Jewish by birth.
* Most identify with being Jewish as a culture, not as a religion.
* Most do not include Israel as a primary level of concern.
* Jewish students, like their peers, are technologically aware.
Hillel, the most common Jewish presence on campus, has developed a five-year plan to meet these challenges.
* Focus resources outside of Hillel buildings.
* Go where the students are.
* Increase programming in campus buildings (residence halls, unions, classrooms).
* Co-sponsor civic and cultural events with other student groups.
* Use facebooks (the newest student online meeting places) to create a community.
To explain these changes in emphasis and direction, Hillel brought together five constituencies who had never met as one before — faculty, students, lay leaders (local Hillel advisory board members),
Hillel professionals, and Hillel donors and supporters — at a Hillel Summit in Washington, D.C., in May.
One Summit panel demonstrated that students are not the only Jewish group on campus that has changed. Hillel had no trouble finding four university and college presidents — from Tulane, Stony Brook,
George Washington, and Williams – to talk about what it meant to make decisions as both a president and a Jew.
As in the past, Hillel buildings will continue to be used for services, counseling, and selected programs. Hillel also will continue to recruit students for a free trip to Israel through birthright
israel, regarded as a long-term investment for interest and involvement.
To see Hillel’s 5-year strategic plan, go to “Enriching Lives, Inspiring Commitment, Delivering the Jewish Future.”
Avi Bass, a former Hillel faculty adviser at Northern Illinois University and a Hillel Summit attendee, edits HF: HILLEL-FACULTY, an independent e-mail newsletter where Jewish faculty and staff
discuss campus Jewish issues. Subscription information is at newsplace.org/HF.html.
[ SPME Editor’s Note- This article was solicited by SPME President, Ed Beck from Avi Bass, editor of the HF Faculty- both of whom attended the Hillel Summit in an effort to bring greater cooperation and understanding between the two publications.]