Hillel pledges to "double the number of students involved in Jewish life"
The JTA reports:
Amid worries about fraying religious ties among Jewish college students and campus rifts over Israel, a conference held here this week probed the interplay between American academia and Jews.Emotionally engaging Jewish content, "living" Shabbat, millions of dollars... It just might work.
“Inspiring Values, Creating Leaders: The Summit on the University and the Jewish Community,” hosted by Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, drew more than 600 university leaders, professors, students and Jewish professionals to dissect such issues.
If Jewish life on American campuses is facing troubles, they stem from causes deeper than academia, many participants suggested.
The director of the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University, Leonard Saxe, who studies Jewish college students, suggested a strategy to re-engage these youth: “kishkes, kortex and kinesthetics,” deliberately tweaking the spelling of cortex.
That means offering experiences rich in emotional and sensory elements, intellectual heft and leadership opportunities, Saxe said in an interview.
“Jewish education hasn’t touched all the senses,” said Saxe, a panelist at “A New Generation’s Culture and Its Impact upon the Jewish Future,” the final session of the conference. “There are things which have Jewish intellectual content, but they’re not emotionally engaging.”
“You can be taught about Shabbat, but unless you live a day separate from the rest of the week, you don’t understand and appreciate it.”
Also at the conference, Hillel pledged to double its numbers over the next five years. In its five-year strategic plan released this week, the largest campus Jewish organization in the United States pledged to double the number of students involved in Jewish life; double its annual campaign; double its funding to local Hillels; and launch an aggressive recruitment and retention program for campus professionals.
To help fund the effort, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman International Center will increase its endowment from $10 million to $100 million. Hillel also pledged to strengthen its relationship with university administrations, Jewish Studies departments and Jewish communities near campuses where it works.