Latest posts by Varda Epstein (see all)
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The Vassar Jewish Union issued a statement yesterday regarding its “Open Hillel.” The prestigious liberal arts college spewed forth a lot of sound and fury signifying their pluralistic nature:
We recognize that identification with Israel is not necessarily an integral part of every individual’s Jewish identity. We commit to providing a spiritual and cultural home for Jewish expression in any form.
Translation: We can express our Judaism any way we like, such as, for instance, eating ham only on alternate Thursdays and hating on Israel.
Of course, their real issue is that currently, Hillel’s international standards prohibit:
Partnering with, housing, or hosting organizations, groups, or speakers who: “1) Deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders; 2) Delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; 3) Support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel; and 4) Exhibit a pattern of disruptive behavior towards campus events or guest speakers or foster an atmosphere of incivility.
Well, Vassar students don’t think that’s fair so THERE (hands on hips). Pluralism means they don’t have to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state with secure borders. I mean, the NERVE of Hillel to tell privileged progressive VASSAR students that they can’t listen to anti-Israel speakers from the Jewish Voice for Peace. The NERVE of Hillel to suggest that Israel has any right to ANY LAND AT ALL, let alone SECURITY.
But of course, the real issue is this: Vassar’s Open Hillel is not open.
It’s rather closed, actually. It’s closed to students who might, for instance, believe that it is incumbent upon every Jew to support the notion of Israel as the Jewish homeland. Vassar’s Open Hillel would be closed to those who believe in the Jewish commandment–the Jewish imperative–of every Jew to settle the land of Israel.
We believe that Hillel International’s goal to “inspire every Jewish college student to develop a meaningful and enduring relationship to Israel” does not represent the diverse opinions of young American Jews. We believe that fostering a pluralistic community and supporting all Jewish life on campus cannot be achieved with Hillel International’s Israel Guidelines in place.
We believe, we believe, we believe.
Actually, belief has very little to do with it. As any person of intellectual honesty might note, pluralism at Vassar is not pluralism at all, for it excludes the believing Jewish faithful who would find it unthinkable to cede any part of, for instance, Jerusalem:
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy. (Psalms 137:6)
Vassar’s Jewish Union through its pretensions to pluralism omits from its hallowed halls those Jews who believe the Jews must settle every part of Biblical Israel in order to properly observe the tenets of their Jewish faith. Vassar’s false sense of pluralism would deem those who believe that Israel belongs to all Jews, and only to Jews, anathema.
THOSE Jews would surely find the doors of the Vassar Open Hillel, tightly shut.