Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Remember Open Hillel?

About ten years ago, a group of students at Harvard became incensed that their Jewish campus Hillel canceled an anti-Israel event when it was revealed that a BDS group was sponsoring it, violating Hillel's guidelines. 

Of course they could hold their event anywhere, but they decided to start a movement called Open Hillel to get other Hillels to drop their affiliation with Hillel. Like so many "progressive" organizations past and future, they are more interested in creating a split within the Jewish community than in building their own. Open Hillel had a conference at Harvard in 2014 and based on the media attention, it looked like it could rupture Hillel International.

It failed.

In the end, only four campuses nationwide defected to "Open Hillel" - Guilford College, Swarthmore College, Vassar College, and Wesleyan University. 

By 2020, none of them were still associated with Open Hillel - and two of them are now affiliated with Hillel International again. 

In short, Open Hillel made a lot of noise but in the end could not attract students who are both interested in Judaism and anti-Zionism. There is a strong negative correlation between the two positions, which pretty much dooms any attempt to fuse them, no matter how many anti-Israel Haggadahs are printed.

So Open Hillel is in a deep coma, and has been for a while, just as the American Council for Judaism - a prominent and equally tiny anti-Zionist group in the 1940s-1960s - also sunk into irrelevance. Both organizations have a couple of people still doing paperwork to maintain their tax exempt status but they have faded away after a lot of publicity early on.

But Open Hillel has one last gambit to stay alive: "Judaism On Our Own Terms," or JOOOT.

They wrote an introductory piece in Mondoweiss on Friday: "Judaism On Our Own Terms is creating a space where young Jews do not have to choose between their Judaism and their sense of justice."

JOOOT is an offshoot, and seemingly successor, of Open Hillel. Since 2020, Open Hillel's Form 990 has included a position for Rakhel Silverman as a "Judaism on our own Terms organizer." getting paid $4600 in 2020 and $2492 in 2021. Silverman describes themself as a "a proud fat trans Disabled Jew."

But JOOOT really doesn't know what to do next. On their website they say they are in the midst of a "restructuring process" where they are asking anyone and everyone to please give them some ideas of what they should be doing. To restructure means they had a structure to begin with, which is not at all clear. 

This mirrors the self-destruction of IfNotNow, but at least IfNotNow managed to grab some headlines before its inevitable collapse. 

In the end, even children know that "Judaism On Our Own Terms" is an oxymoron. People don't look at religion or community to do whatever they want - they want to be part of a whole where everyone shares basic beliefs and standards. If anyone can do whatever they want and call it Judaism, then Judaism has no meaning. The anti-Zionists only have one belief - hating Israel - and that is not enough to keep a core group of enthusiastic members nor is it enough to attract more. 

There will still be plenty of anti-Zionist Jews. But their interest in identifying as Jews is ephemeral. Which is why these groups are all doomed, but also why there will always be new ones who think they came up with the idea. 

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

Or order from your favorite bookseller, using ISBN 9798985708424. 

Read all about it here!




EoZ Book:"Protocols: Exposing Modern Antisemitism"


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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