Our very own Lex Rofes — New Voices opinions editor and student representative on the board of Hillel — has joined forces with J Street U President Simone Zimmerman for a truly cracking op-ed at JTA about Hillel’s pluralism shortcomings:
(JTA) — Throughout our four years in college, Hillel as been our home on campus. We have been involved extensively, with one of us serving as president on campus and on the Hillel international board.
While we both found in Hillel a supportive community, when it came to our relationship to Israel, Hillel was not always so welcoming. One of us often avoided expressing political views in Hillel board meetings for fear of losing credibility. The other openly expressed her political views, which was met at times with harsh criticism.
We both remained committed to working in Hillel through moments of challenge, but we know many others who, meeting such obstacles, simply stepped away.
In past decades, Hillel faced a similar challenge concerning religious observance. Hillel now strives to ensure that religious practice and background is no barrier to entry, actively working to involve LGBT voices, students from interfaith families, Jewish atheists and others. Yet on Israel, the same pluralism is lacking. Students who express ambivalence toward Zionism or support boycotts of Israeli products often feel they are not welcome in their campus Jewish community.
I highly recommend taking a look at the full piece at JTA.