The Jewish Daily Forward Accuses Hillel International of Censorship.

Rabbi Bachman should be supporting the Hillel International name since protecting one's good name is part of the theology he preaches from the pulpit every Sabbath.

As reported TruthRevolt, Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut warned the Swarthmore Hillel that if they insist breaking the Hillel guidelines by bringing in anti-Israel speakers, Hillel will remove permission for its name to be used: "I hope you will inform your colleagues on the Student Board of Swarthmore Hillel that Hillel International expects all campus organizations that use the Hillel name to adhere to these guidelines. No organization that uses the Hillel name may choose to do otherwise.”

In a Jewish Daily Forward op-ed called "Censoring Hillels Goes Against Jewish Traditions" Rabbi Andy Bachman strongly disagrees with the Hillel International position:

Ceding to the campus classrooms the most open debate on the most important issues facing us as Jews and Americans and not fostering them in the Hillels runs the risk of making Hillel simply irrelevant to the vast majority of young Jews today. It sends the message that the real learning they’ll do on campus is in the classroom and that Hillel will be a Jewish choice for a select few who adhere to a wider directive from above. Hardly the choice of most young people I know today. This would be an enormous missed opportunity to engage young Jews in a substantive and meaningful way at a time in their lives when they are making some of their own most important decisions about Jewish identity and Israel.

Rabbi Bachman is totally missing the point. Hillel International is not censuring the Swathmore College Jews. That same group of students can host the same anti-Israel speakers, but not under the Hillel name. Andy Bachman is a Reform Rabbi, the official magazine of the Reform Movement, which explains their theology there are articles which support the Hillel International position, one gives this example

My grandfather, Rabbi Nissen Telushkin, used to advise people, "Don't be so concerned with being humble that you try to hide from others all knowledge of the good you do. It is good to be known as something of a tzaddik, a righteous person. If nothing else, you'll be afraid to do something bad because you'll fear that it will become known, and will harm your good name." In short, if you're proud to have a good name, you will never want to do something to sully your reputation. 

Hillel was trying to protect its good name. Hillel International has thousands of donors across the world that give their hard-earned money to the organization based on its guidelines. One of those guidelines is not sponsoring anti-Israel speakers. Allowing the Swarthmore Jewish student organization to promote anti-Israel activities under the Hillel banner means they took that money under false pretenses and smeared their reputation.

In the end, Rabbi Bachman should be supporting the Hillel International name since protecting one's good name is part of the theology he preaches from the pulpit every Sabbath.

 

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