JVP’s Petition

Hello Innermost Parts!

As some of you may know, JVP is putting a campaign together to become accepted into Hillel’s umbrella group. Innermost Parts is not taking a stance on this debate. Please become informed before signing JVP’s petition.

Hillel’s national guidelines supports Israel, as is in their mission statement. Hillel recognizes JVP as a Jewish organization, welcomes their commentary to discussion, and respects them as a fellow organization at Brandeis. Hillel board member Erica said in an earlier post on Innermost Parts that she is “happy that Brandeis students have diverse venues to explore perspectives, ask questions, and develop thoughtful stances on the Middle East. Hillel’s decision does not change this important reality.”

She reflects that:

Hillel Board’s decision does not reflect our personal politics- it was procedural. Our vote, in line with national Hillel, simply means that Jewish Voice for Peace, as an organization, does not have a place in the organization Hillel at Brandeis. By turning down JVP we are not turning our back on JVP members. We are not attempting to exclude voices or stifle individual opinions and identities. It is my hope that those who are a part of JVP, or advocate its views, will continue to attend Hillel events and participate actively in our community. You are always welcome here. I look forward to continuing conversations at your events, and at our events.

Personally, as an activist, I have to wonder why JVP even wants to become associated with Hillel when their mission statements are so inherently different and they wish to accomplish different goals.

I have tried to arrange a meeting with a member of JVP who has not gotten back to me. I asked her, with no response, what JVP’s goals were and the reaction they were looking for from Hillel. What is JVP trying to accomplish with this campaign? In my personal opinion, this petition will not further JVP’s goals as an organization. For a group trying to bring “peace” they are certainly dividing the Jewish community at Brandeis.


7 thoughts on “JVP’s Petition”

  1. How about just no political groups? The inclusion of groups like BZA make it seem like Hillel has taken a pretty strong stance in terms of what their politics are and aren’t.

  2. Art [not Arthur], by defining Hillel as religious groups (BOO, BUCO and BaRuCH) vs political groups , you’re leaving out a lot of people. Let’s start with BRO (Brandeis Reconstructionist Organization) which is frequently left out of the list of minyan groups because it is newer than the others.

    Then we’ve got the performance groups- Manginah, JFA, Ba’Note, B’yachad, and Hillel Theatre Group. And tzedek (charity) groups like Generations and Mitzvah Corps, and education/dialogue groups like Klal. And, of course, the groups you call “PAC-like,” by which I assume you mean BZA, BIPAC, and J-Street U.

    Can we really say that Brandeis Hillel should exist only as a center for religious programming, especially when so many Jews at Brandeis and elsewhere also find their Judaism in other activities? That Brandeis Hillel should not support any of these non-religious activities? If that’s the case, then maybe we should say that Hillel shouldn’t support any of the non-religious programming that the minyanim run- after all, BaRuCH, BOO, BUCO and BRO all sponsor social events that are pretty much completely unrelated to religious observance.

    Obviously, the suggestion that Hillel should be purely a religious organization is ridiculous. Let’s take that off the table, please.

  3. Would you guys be satiated if Hillel hosted a round table event and invited you guys? I think they’re pro-dialogue; or at least not opposed thereto, but [and perhaps not rigorously so] opposed to the inclusion of your group vis-a-vis your mission statement and their own.
    Personally, I think Hillel should be BOO, BUCO and Baruch. I see no need for the inclusion of PAC-like, to use language from my FB post, groups in a faith-based consortium. Imagine a college’s chaplaincy included Students for Life amongst it’s student based organizations of faith. Groups like BZA are as akin to Hillel as those would be.

  4. Esther,

    There is already a divide in the Jewish community at Brandeis. Furthermore, peace is entirely consistent with disagreement. Also, all opinions are personal. 😛

    JVP wants to become associated with Hillel because Hillel seems to represent all Judaism on campus. This is inconsistent with what Hillel actually is, and they shouldn’t be required to break with their national organization. However, they should make it clear that Hillel is both a Jewish and Zionist organization so as not to exclude JVP from the Jewish community.

  5. Hillel is the de facto center of Jewish life on campus because the vast majority of Jews on campus agree with their opinion on Israel on campus. They don’t explicitly claim to be pluralistic, though there’s certainly the impression there. They should more clearly state their Zionism.

  6. Esther, while I believe that you’re sincere in your concerns, I don’t think you’ve seriously considered JVP’s purposes, which have been clearly stated again and again from the beginning. In short: Hillel is the center of Jewish life on campus. It is explicitly pluralistic and represents itself as non-partisan. But their decision to exclude JVP for a political disagreement calls that into question. JVP wants to be part of Hillel because we want to be part of the Jewish communal discussion, and being excluded from Hillel is an explicit admission that we are not accepted within it, despite Hillel’s disavowals. This is precisely what activist groups, especially identity-based activist groups, are supposed to do: shake up preconceptions and get dialog going.

    Finally, you say that JVP is dividing the Jewish community at Brandeis. That is simply not the case. The fact is that there are differences amongst Jews, especially when it comes to Israel. It is Hillel’s job not to cover over those differences, but to provide a place where those differences can interact and learn from one another. Their decision prevents that from happening, and we feel a responsibility to prevent the Jewish community from closing itself off in this way.

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