An article in this week’s New York Jewish Week discusses a shift in the thinking of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life in meeting the needs of today’s college kids, the so-called “millenials.” Among other changes, Hillel has “abandoned its longtime mantra ‘to maximize the number of Jews doing Jewish with other Jews’ in favor of one that casts a wider net… ‘to enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.’”
Recent studies confirm what JOI already knew: 50% of those who identify Jewishly on college campuses come from interfaith families. That adds to Hillel’s challenge of reaching more kids while remaining inclusive of all streams of Jewish denominationalism and observance. It is an exciting challenge, though. To reach them where they are—in the midst of college culture—requires us as a community to enliven Jewish cultural offerings, take our programs to secular campus venues, and find ways to make connections while competing with all the other attractions and distractions of college life. Like all Jewish institutions, Hillel must change to meet those needs, but we believe that can be accomplished through the many innovative outreach techniques already being promoted by JOI. Much more to follow about JOI and Hillel in the months ahead.
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