Swarthmore Hillel
Identity, Israel

Swarthmore Hillel Changes Name Under Legal Threats From Hillel International

As part of a two-month long series of speakers on social justice issues in Israel and Palestine, Swarthmore Hillel scheduled a presentation and discussion with civil rights organizers Ira Grupper, Mark Levy, Larry Rubin, and Dorothy Zellner who are currently doing Palestine solidarity organizing. Other speakers in the social justice series include, Palestinian nonviolent activist Ali Abu Awwad, executive director of Women of the Wall Lesley Sachs, and co-founder of Israeli Jewish-Arab education center Yad B’Yad (Hand in Hand) Lee Gordon. This series follows Swarthmore Hillel’s successful Israel-Palestine Jewish Student Story Panel at the end of February.

Hillel International informed Swarthmore College and Swarthmore Hillel that they could face legal action for violation of the Hillel’s brand if the civil rights organizers were hosted under the Hillel name. See the attached letter.

On Monday, Swarthmore Hillel held an open meeting for the Swarthmore Jewish community to discuss the civil rights event, what it means to be “open,” what it means to be “Hillel,” and how to move forward. Students came together, shared their personal values and perspectives, and illustrated the true diversity of views and opinions within our community.

In order to affirm the organization’s central Jewish values of openness and inclusion across differences, following the community meeting, Swarthmore Hillel’s student board voted to no longer use the name Hillel. In the coming weeks, the organization will be having the entire Jewish community at Swarthmore decide on a name using an open submission process and a vote.


Contact: Joshua Wolfsun ‘16, Israel-Palestine Programming Coordinator

Email: [email protected]

One thought on “Swarthmore Hillel Changes Name Under Legal Threats From Hillel International

  1. Pretty sure the term for a Jewish student life organization threatening to sue Jewish students is “losing the plot”

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