What is most irritating in some of the criticisms is the myopic vision of the role of Hillels – as if they should be singly engaged in political advocacy.
Students are not foot-soldiers for any group. Hillels allow tens of thousands of Jewish college students, who are often far from their homes, to connect with their religion and community.
They are in the business of helping students make life choices when their parents are not close at hand. They inspire students to lead a Jewish life.
This is accomplished through religious and social programming, community building and social justice projects.
This is a complex and compelling mission; it is not unidimensional.
To achieve their mission, Hillel professionals must be able to meet student where they are and to facilitate caring conversations with peers and professionals. The complexities of modern Jewish life and the important relationship of Jews in the Disapora to Israel need to be explored at a personal level. I firmly believe that we can trust Hillel professionals and boards and student leaders to make the right choices in these sensitive areas. I have less faith in the helicopter critics.
Mark G. Yudof, “Appreciating Hillels on College Campuses”, The Jerusalem Post (15 May 2016) [http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Appreciating-Hillels-on-college-campuses-454042]