University campus (illustration)
University campus (illustration)iStock

Hillel International is launching a series of initiatives to combat campus antisemitism.

With discrimination against Jewish students rising at an alarming rate – there were 500 reported incidents of antisemitism on campuses in Norther American in the 2020-21 academic year – Hillel is seeking to better help Jewish students while also responding to threats they face.

“For last academic year alone, we tracked 487 incidents of antisemitism on campus and other forms of anti-Jewish bias,” Hillel International CEO Adam Lehman told the Columbus Jewish News. “That represented an 82 percent year over year increase from the prior academic year, which of course, is very troubling.”

Hillel also partnering with the ADL and the Secure Community Network to create a college-level curriculum on antisemitism and jointly document antisemitic incidents on campuses in the United States.

The Hillel-ADL partnership, which will begin in the coming academic year, follows a spike in reported anti-Semitic incidents on campus. In the school year that ended in 2021, the ADL tallied 244 anti-Semitic incidents on campuses nationwide, an increase from 181 the previous school year. Hillel has a presence on more than 550 campuses and says it serves more than 400,000 students.

Hillel also has an online portal, ReportCampusHate.org, which was created to make it easier for students to report antisemitic incidents.

“With the current amount we’re tracking, we know from survey data, and anecdotal discussion with health professionals and student leaders, that there are many students that for a variety of reasons, just don’t feel comfortable reporting,” Lehman said. “As such, we’re trying to make it even easier and more impactful for them to report issues through the introduction of this new tool.”

Besides the targeted initiatives introduced to address the crisis on campuses, Lehman said that the most important thing they can do “is just having strong Hillels and strong Jewish student life on campus.”

“Having that strong Jewish student community is the most powerful antidote in that students feel seen. They feel supported. They feel empowered. And that positions Jewish students to weather the inevitable challenges facing our community and positions them to be able to not only combat hate against the Jewish community on campus, but to be strong advocates for other minorities who are facing discrimination on campus as well.”