Rutgers Hillel is a thriving, dynamic, diverse Jewish community dedicated to exploring and celebrating Judaism and everything it means to be Jewish.
There isn’t one specific type of Hillel student. We are as varied as the Jewish people. We are religious and non-religious. We are liberal and conservative. We are artists and scholars. We are social activists and party animals (sometimes both). We are everything in between and beyond. We are different, but we are all Jewish. Take a few minutes and explore our website. We are here to help you find your place in the Jewish community, and what being Jewish can mean for you.
Rutgers Hillel’s mission is to provide opportunities for every Jewish student at Rutgers University’s New Brunswick campus to deepen their connection to Jewish identity and Jewish community. We seek to inspire our students to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life.
Hillel embraces this mission by helping students find a balance in being distinctively Jewish and universally human by encouraging them to pursue tzedek (social justice), tikkun olam (repairing the world) and Jewish learning, and to support Israel and global Jewish peoplehood. Hillel is committed to excellence, innovation, accountability and results.
On a campus of approximately 6,000 Jewish undergraduates (17% of the student body) and 1,000+ Jewish graduate students, Hillel continuously strives to create a broadly defined Jewish campus culture which is intrinsically intertwined with the culture of Rutgers University. Our goal is to enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.
Rutgers Hillel is a part of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, providing opportunities for Jewish students at more than 500 colleges and universities worldwide to explore and celebrate their Jewish identity. For more information about Hillel, visit its website, www.hillel.org
Rutgers Hillel’s history matches the remarkable changes in the University and the nation during its almost 7 decades on campus. From its earliest days Hillel played a significant role in campus life, serving not only the religious needs of the campus Jewish community but also providing a center for social, political and artistic expression.
The Rutgers Hillel Foundation was established in 1943, building on the student run Hillel Council of Rutgers which had been founded three years earlier. Rabbi Julius Funk, of blessed memory, was hired as the first Hillel rabbi, and led Rutgers Hillel for the next 43 years, together with his wife Pearl.
During WWII, Rabbi Funk’s first major project was to invite First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to campus, and she visited Rutgers Hillel in January 1944. Over 1,200 people attended the event and Mrs. Roosevelt raised $1.5M in War Bonds. During the Viet Nam War years Hillel was the focus of much campus debate and political action. In the 1970s, Hillel brought many famous dignitaries to campus, including such names as Chaim Potok, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Elie Wiesel, Jan Peerce, Rabbi Yosef Soloveitchik, Theodore Bikel, and Simon Wiesenthal. The annual Jewish Arts Festival, a two week extravaganza, was a major community event for many years.
Rabbi Funk retired in 1982, and was succeeded by Rabbi Norman Weitzner. Rabbi Weitzner was succeeded by in 1995 by Rabbi David Gutterman, who oversaw the historic move to College Avenue and Hillel’s emergence as an independent organization, after over 50 years as an affiliate of B’nai B’rith. In 2001 Andrew Getraer was hired as Executive Director and in the last decade Hillel as seen a period of tremendous growth and expansion in all areas. A major highlight of this period was the Israel Inspires campaign in 2003-04, a full year of high-profile pro-Israel activity, highlighted by the largest pro-Israel rally in the history of the State of New Jersey, held on Busch Campus.
For many years Hillel was housed at different locations in downtown New Brunswick, before moving into a brand new facility on Ryders Lane, behind the Douglass Campus, in 1971. That facility was sold to the University in 1996 and Hillel moved to 93 College Avenue, our home until October of 2013. We completed the final stages of an $18M Capital and Endowment Campaign to build a brand new 33,000 square foot Hillel student center at 70 College Avenue, in the heart of the College Avenue, which opened in Spring 2017.
Rutgers Hillel aspires to collect the history of Jewish life at Rutgers, and to share these stories with you here. If you would like to contribute to our history project, or order a copy of “The Jewish Experience at Rutgers” by Ruth Marcus Patt ’40, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.