Over 100 U.S. Rabbis Urge Hillel: Readmit LGBTQ Group Ousted for Teaming Up With Pro-boycott Org

Rabbis also call on campus organization to pull out of Mosaic United, a $66 million initiative sponsored by Education Minister Bennett

The annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 12, 2015.
Ariel Schalit, AP

More than 100 rabbis and rabbinical students in the United States issued an appeal to Hillel International, the Jewish campus organization, to readmit an expelled LGBTQ group and to cut ties with a project sponsored by Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi).

In March, the Hillel chapter at Ohio State University ousted B’nai Keshet, the Jewish LGBTQ group active on campus, for co-sponsoring an event for gay refugees with Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization highly critical of Israel. Hillel’s guidelines prohibit collaborations with organizations, like Jewish Voice for Peace, that openly support a boycott of Israel.

“Hillel’s decision has served to isolate LGBTQ Jewish students from the broader Jewish community and to deprive them of equal access to Ohio State University’ Hillel’s resources,” the rabbis and rabbinical students wrote in a letter sent Thursday to Eric Fingerhut, the president of Hillel International. 

“It also signals to LGBTQ Jewish college students around the world that Hillel International views them as disposable, rather than as an integral part of the Jewish campus community,” the letter said.

The rabbis also urged Hillel International to pull out of Mosaic United, a $66 million initiative sponsored by Bennett, aimed at strengthening Jewish identity on American college campuses. The two other campus partners in the initiative are organizations active in Orthodox outreach work.

“Time and again, Bennett has made it clear that his vision of the Jewish family excludes LGBTQ people,” they wrote. “Despite best intentions, Hillel cannot fully support LGBTQ Jewish students while taking tens of millions of dollars from a program that aims to promote an exclusionary, homophobic vision of Jewish identity.”