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

Israel On Campus Update at Illini Hillel

 Permanent link

April 26th, 2012 | 4th of Iyar, 5772

As you have been and continue to be an important part of our Illini Hillel community, we want to share the following update with you:

For many years, our Illini Hillel, supported by JUF's Israel Education Center (IEC), has celebrated Israel's independence through a week-long series of events both on and off campus called Israel Week, marking Israel's many achievements in its short history.  This week of programming is the pinnacle of the year's worth of Israel education at UIUC.

This year, the week that preceded our celebration was marked by a series of events organized by a Registered Student Organization (RSO) called "SJP - Students for Justice in Palestine," the local chapter of a national organization by the same name. As part of a campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel, they built a large wall in the middle of campus and organized events that tried to establish a parallel between Israel's policies in the West Bank, and South-African Apartheid. While the comparison is a blatant misrepresentation, the wall did attract attention from our campus community.

How Hillel and JUF's Israel Education Center responded:

  • We increased our Israel-related programming, organizing a professors' panel about the crisis in Syria, a lunch session about the Israeli myth of Masada and a candle vigil at the quad for the commemoration of Yom HaShoah, which attracted more than 100 people. Altogether, over 250 people attended the events organized by Hillel - many more than the numbers SJP attracted to their three events;
  • IEC Israel Interns and other Hillel students had their letters published by the Daily Illini, the students newspaper (you can go to to read our students letters);
  • We organized our events in cooperation with other student organizations, such as Interfaith in Action, College Democrats, Illini Conservative Union, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and Amnesty International – focusing our efforts on helping people develop a deeper understanding of the conflicts in the Middle East, and of the potential effects of anti-Semitism; and
  • We are working with University officials to understand how the wall, a semi-permanent structure, was allowed to be built and remain on the quad for five days.

We have been strategic about our response, avoiding actions that would only bring more attention to the aggressive message put out by SJP and other Israel detractors. We have been strategic in placing more emphasis on our positive Israel programming than in reacting to provocations.

Right now, we are concluding the celebration of Israel Week that was led and planned by Hillel and the Israel Illini RSO. 

So far this week…

  • We tabled on the quad and interacted with over 2000 students and faculty; we had a number of RSOs tabling with us on campus including: AEPi, AEPhi, SDT, ZBT, Students for Environmental Concerns, AISC, TAMID, KravMaga, Israel Illini and the Illini Conservative Union;
  • Our Yom HaZikaron ceremony was attended by over 100 students and community members who came to remember Israel's fallen soldiers;
  • We celebrated Yom HaAtzmaut all day long – starting with a communal event at Sinai Temple, continuing with a party throughout the night and ending with a barbecue party on the deck of the Cohen Center. A total of 500 people attended the Yom HaAtzmaut Events; 
  • We partnered with the Israeli community in Champaign-Urbana and welcomed them for a significant part of our celebrations; and
  • We strengthened our partnership with organizations on and off campus, co-sponsoring events with, among others, AISC, TAMID, ZBT, SDT, AEPi, AEPhi, Students for Environmental Concerns, Environmental Brigades, Illinois Dance Department, African Cultural Association, the Jewish Studies Program, Sinai Temple, and the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation.

We are extremely proud of Hillel's Israel programming at the University of Illinois. Our students are engaged and are knowledgeable about the issues at stake; we are building partnerships and educating the broader campus community; and we celebrate a positive agenda for Israel all year long! When Israel's detractors come to campus with the aim of denying Israel's right to exist, we respond in a strategic and effective way.

We are able to do all this because of the generous support of community members like you. Your gifts help provide our students with a safe place to learn about Israel, and the tools to educate others.

Hillel at Loyola Spring 2012 Highlights

 Permanent link


After Hillel and the Armed Forces Club co-sponsored the visit of Israeli soldiers to Loyola, the groups decided to partner again on a campus-wide project to send care packages to U.S. Soldiers. Joining with Hillel and the Armed Forces Club was Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity (SAE) and the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. This initiative captured the imagination of the entire campus community and students throughout Loyola contributed items for the care packages at tables set up in the Loyola Student Union. Students from the sponsoring groups then came together to assemble the packages, and 4 large cartons were mailed to the Army Infantry unit, which had recently moved from Afghanistan to Germany. The unit selected was that of a Jewish soldier from Chicago, David Schiller, a graduate of Akiba-Schechter Day School, the Ida Crown Jewish Academy and Yeshiva University.

Sending Care packages


Hillel at Loyola students surprised Patti Ray, Loyola's Hillel Director, with a party they had been planning for several months. Though there will be a formal celebration of Hillel at Loyola's 25th anniversary hosted by Loyola's Alumni Association on June 24th, the current Hillel students wanted to make a party of their own! With a special power-point presentation, speeches, and other tributes, Hillel students, alumni, faculty and members of other campus organizations came together to honor Patti Ray in a joyous evening event.

Surprise Celebration at Loyola

At Pattys 25th anniversary party


Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israel's 64th Independence Day, 2012, was celebrated in a very creative manner at Loyola University this year. When the holiday falls mid-semester, there is a huge campus-wide party in the Student Union. Since this year, the holiday fell at the very end of Loyola's Spring Semester, also on the day of the visit of the Dalai Lama to Loyola, in a program in which Hillel participated, the students developed an innovated celebration decorating Loyola's Lake Shore campus with Israeli flags. In the crisp, bright wind of the day, there were Israeli flags flying from the 8th floor windows of Mundelein Center, where Hillel is located; Hillel students who live in dorms or apartments on campus had Israeli flags in their windows, and a group of Hillel men wore Israeli flags as capes throughout the day on campus! In addition, Hillel at Loyola became a center of celebration with a birthday cake for Israel decorated like an Israeli flag, falafel sandwiches, a crafts table to make Hebrew name bracelets with Hillel students helping others to create them, and an array of Israel information. More than 100 students, faculty and staff from throughout the university from a variety of groups streamed in and out of Hillel at Loyola throughout the day.

Yom HaAtzmaut at Loyola

Wearing Israeli flags