Changing the World through Rutgers Hillel
By Alex Hamilton, Class of 2016
Rutgers Hillel Student Board President
An airplane crashes on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The only survivor is a Jewish man. When he is eventually rescued, the rescue teams discover two synagogues. When they asked the survivor why two synagogues, he deftly replied, “Well there’s my shul and then there’s the shul I don’t go to.”
This is an unfortunate, but accurate portrait of world Jewry. There is so much animosity between various types of Jews: Ashkenazi and Sephardi, Israeli and diaspora, secular and religious. And why? For no good reason.
In the Jewish calendar, right now we are in the midst of the nine days leading up to Tisha B’Av (the ninth day of Av), when we commemorate the destruction of the both Temples in Jerusalem. In the Talmud we learn that the Second Temple was destroyed because of Sinat Chinam, or hatred-for-no-good-reason.
Sinat Chinam is tearing away the fabric of world Jewry today. In my eyes there is nothing that brings different Jews together better than Hillel. There is only one way for Hillel, as a whole, to do this: Pluralism.
Rutgers Hillel is no exception to this. We have thriving Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox communities. We have open forums where people come and discuss Israeli politics from any angle. There are delicious Shabbat dinners that bring together people from every religious background. But we can only achieve all of this and more through true pluralism.
We are a melting pot with different beliefs and diverse histories, but to many people in the rest of the world we are viewed as all the same: we are Jews.
In this upcoming year, as Rutgers Hillel Student Board President, I plan on making Rutgers Hillel a more active part of the campus fabric.
Rutgers Hillel will continue working with outside organizations and branch out even more. This is a way to find Jews that are not yet connected to Hillel. It also allows for the Rutgers community to experience Rutgers Hillel as something more than how we are portrayed through The Daily Targum.
We can, we should and we will take an active role in various social issues. We can stand against sexual assault on campus. We can protest loose child labor laws around the world. We can make it known that Jews care about everyone, not just themselves.
We can only achieve this when we are working together as a team. I want to unify Hillel and change the perspectives of those outside the organization. Margaret Meade once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” And I know that with the Student Board this year and some hard work, we will change the world.