Campus Affairs & Student Engagement

Mensch’s Guide to Campus Activism

Guide to Campus Activism

A Mensch's Guide to Campus Activism
Connecting college students to worldly issues.


The Hillels of Illinois
Regional Programs
30 S. Wells St.
Chicago, IL 60606
phone: (312) 444-2868
fax: (312) 855-2479

Lewis Summer
Intern Program
The Hillels of Illinois
30 S. Wells St.
Chicago, IL 60606
phone: (312) 444-2868

College Blog

Hillel Blog

Improving Israeli-Palestinian Relations on Campus

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By Hayley Nagelberg, University of Illinois '19

In March, Joe Biden spoke to a room of 18,000 people at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., and said, “the future belongs to the bridge builders.” He is not the first person to use this expression. Martin Luther King Jr, Isaac Newton and Pope Francis are all known to have used this metaphor in their speeches.

The metaphor is simple: Those who build relationships with others and work toward inclusion of more groups will have success. Those who stand alone and tear others down will not.

This week, students across campus intend to promote a message of hateful lies about Israel as truth. This was not a shock for me to see; I have heard of these weeks of programming all around different campuses. But being a freshman at this University, and seeing it for the first time, I could not just brush it off.

Building Bridges

Every week, different student organizations stand on the quad promoting their individual messages. This week, the same is true. Groups are selling cookies, handing out flyers and explaining the causes they represent. But this week, there is a new table as well, where I will spend my week trying to not just speak for one group, but for all. Specifically, this table is asking students to stand up and build bridges with us. Not just metaphorically, but literally. We are building a bridge.

The concept of apartheid has been discussed a lot on campus over the last few weeks — from the discussion of divesting from coal like we divested from South Africa, to now this week of programming. The word apartheid means separation. It was the word assigned to explain South Africa’s legislative system of racial separation. These laws regulated every faction of daily life from where people could go to the bathroom, where they could go to school and even whom they could marry.

None of these regulations exist in Israel today. Israel is a democracy — home to people of all religions, all races and ethnicities, all sexual identities and more.

There are people who infer that there is an apartheid in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinian people, but there is no basis to these claims. In the West Bank, as well as in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians are self-governed.

In 1993, after the signing of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority was established to govern the Palestinian National Movement. This government is elected and has its own legal counsel. It is in charge of education, judicial proceedings, health policies and medical care.

There have been grave acts against the Palestinian people. The Palestinians are excluded from the Arab League states who do not stand to support their nationality. They have been kicked out of Kuwait, Libya, Iraq and more. They are denied the right to own their own homes in Lebanon. They have been denied citizenship in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and other countries. And yet, the events taking place on our campus choose to focus on condemning Israel.

Seeing this upsets me. I want to sit down and explain the facts, but that is not a feasible plan. There is too much distrust amongst different groups on campus for us to have a conversation.

In Israel, Palestinians and Israelis live side by side. In Israel, they attend school together, they play sports together, they learn to play music together and they learn to see each other as partners for peace. In Israel, an Arab woman was unanimously approved by Israel’s cabinet to be national commissioner for equal employment opportunities. Israel’s ambassador to Norway was a Druze man. On Israel’s supreme court, one of the justices is an Israeli Arab. And the list goes on.

These people know how to live side by side, yet on campuses across the country it seems this lesson is not yet understood. But I believe this campus can change that.

I believe we can be the future Biden described — a future full of bridge builders where engaging with people who disagree with us is possible, and where we see each other as neighbors and brothers and cousins, not enemies, despite unstable histories between us.

This week, and moving forward, you have a choice to make as a student here: you can join the demonstrations on the quad; you can join the events that are furthering the divide and animosity on campus, or you can join the movement to unite our campus.

The choice is yours. I hope you choose to build bridges with me.

Originally posted in the Daily Illini, reprinted with permission

Photo by Lily Katz

Summer Career Opportunities with Hillels of Illinois

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Lewis Summer Intern Program 2016 Small

Are you looking for summer Internship opportunities?

The Hillels of Illinois have two opportunities available for current college students: The Lewis Summer Intern Program, and Onward Israel.

Lewis Summer Intern Program

The Lewis Summer Intern Program is an eight week paid internship program for Jewish college students in the Chicagoland area. As an LSIP intern, you'll be placed at one of a wide-range of Jewish non-profit organizations or Jewish-led businesses. During this summer, you'll work in your placement for four days a week, and you'll spend one day downtown at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago for career-building skills training and Jewish enrichment. You'll be provided with invaluable career and networking opportunities, the chance to build and polish a professional portfolio, the skills to nail your next job interview, and a window into all that the Jewish community does for both Chicagoland Jews, and the broader population.  To learn more about the Lewis Summer Intern Program and apply, click here.

Start Up Your Future with Onward Israel

Develop your professional future and build your resume through a high-level internship side by side with Israeli peers. This Tel Aviv based internship program places you in a work environment based on your skills, interests and future plans. Intern four days a week while one day a week will be devoted to learning about and experiencing contemporary Israeli society. Outside of your placement, spend quality time with Israelis and explore Tel Aviv’s exciting nightlife, beaches and culture. Features include a weekend retreat with Jewish students from across North America and the world. Space is limited.  Rolling admission. Click Here to learn more and apply!

Empowering Our Students for Jewish Campus Life

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Eric Fingerhut with Write On for Israel StudentsOn November 11, more than 300 people came together at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park for the event, Empowering Our Students for Jewish Campus Life. The event brought together attendees from the Northern Suburbs for a College Hillel Fair representing 13 Universities and a presentation by Hillel International President CEO and former Congressman Eric Fingerhut. Fingerhut’s keynote was followed by breakout sessions for high school students where they learned about Jewish Campus Life from current college students on three different campuses and Israel advocacy from Write On for Israel participants. Parents and community members had a chance to ask questions of Eric Fingerhut, John Lowenstein, Vice President of Campus Affairs, and Erez Cohen, Director of Illini Hillel.

I brought my son to the event and we both found the evening to be inspiring, educational and informative.  As a junior, my son is beginning his college search and the Hillel representatives we spoke to were wonderful.  They were friendly and knowledgeable and took the time to answer all our questions.  The keynote address was very inspiring and thought provoking while the breakout sessions were well suited to our specific needs.- Event Attendee

We would like to take this opportunity to again thank North Suburban Synagogue Beth El for hosting this incredible event, as well as the synagogues that cosponsored the event with us: North Suburban Synagogue Beth El (Highland Park), Am Shalom (Glencoe), Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah (Wilmette), Congregation B'nai Tikvah (Deerfield), Congregation Beth Shalom (Northbrook),  Moriah Congregation (Deerfield) , and North Shore Congregation Israel (Glencoe).