TIMES OF ISRAEL
by Amanda Borschel-Dan
June 9, 2014
April saw the first major convergence of the Hillel International, J Street U and Open Hillel constellation. Despite Hillel International’s public partnership with J Street, the Boston University Hillel student board decided not to reup the school’s J Street U chapter‘s membership as a “Hillel organization.”
Membership grants the group use of the Hillel facilities for events, advertising, and easier access to Jewish students — all key to the Boston J Street U chapter’s success.
J Street U currently has 60 chapters nationwide with some 5,000 students. It is the magnet for liberal-minded Jewish students who cannot see themselves toeing the loyalist pro-Israel lines taken by more conservative campus groups such as AIPAC, StandWithUs and Aish Hatorah’s Israel Hasbara Fellowship.
Enter Open Hillel, a new grassroots effort among Jewish students founded in January 2013, mostly among eastern US campuses, that has made headlines this school year with campuses “seceding” from Hillel International. The movement mainly focuses on broadening the discourse on campuses surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but takes on other issues as well.