In the aftermath of J Street's rejection from the Conference of Presidents, campuses have been abuzz regarding J Street's campus affiliate, J Street U, and its standing with Hillel International. In an email obtained by TruthRevolt, Hillel International Board of Directors Chair Sidney Pertnoy and Hillel International CEO and president Eric Fingerhut defended Hillel's relationship with J Street U, reaffirming Hillel's stance that J Street has a place in Hillel:
From: Moskowitz, Jeremy [Redacted] On Behalf Of Pertnoy, Sidney
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2014
To: Local Board Chairs; Hillel Professionals
Subject: Background and Clarification on the Conference Vote
Dear Hillel Colleagues,
The vote last week by the 50-member Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that rejected J Street’s application for membership has provoked a myriad of reactions in the Jewish world, and the Hillel movement is not immune.
We are writing to you today to provide background about Hillel’s relationship to the Conference as well as clarifying the impact of the vote on our campus work with J Street U and its student members.
Hillel International is currently a non-voting adjunct member of the Conference and we did not participate in the vote on the J Street membership request. However, we are in the process of affiliating with the Conference as a member with full voting rights. We expect this to occur in June. As the Conference is comprised of lay leaders from the member organizations, our Board chair, Sidney Pertnoy, will be Hillel International’s voting representative. If you are interested in learning more about the Conference, its purpose, and to view a list of members, please click here.
Since the Conference voted not to accept J Street as a member, Hillel professionals, students, and lay leaders have asked what effect this has on J Street U’s status within our movement. The simple answer is that the vote has no effect whatsoever on Hillel’s relationship with J Street U and its student members. Like other Hillel students and student groups, J Street U’s members add their perspective to the rich tapestry of ideas within our tent.
As an example of our movement’s work to broaden student inclusivity and to listen directly to their voices, a cross section of Hillel student leaders from across the country joined our Board of Directors, including our current student board members, at our meeting last Sunday in Chicago. J Street U student leaders were among those who shared their viewpoints openly and candidly on many issues with our leadership.
We hope that this letter provides some clarity to what we know has been a contentious situation. Hillel International was built on the value of pluralism and remains committed to embracing wide-ranging expressions of Jewish thought and ideals, and we believe our upcoming membership in the Conference of Presidents will be an opportunity to spread those values. If you would like any more information, please contact Rob Goldberg (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Chair, Hillel International Board of Directors
Eric D. Fingerhut
President & CEO, Hillel International
J Street is a highly questionable organization for reasons including questionable funding sources and numerous anti-Israel events. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz has even compared J Street to Jews for Jesus:
I analogize (J Street) to Jews for Jesus. They (Jews for Jesus) fool students, into thinking it is a Jewish organization and J Street fools students into thinking it is a pro-Israel organization.