Over 300 college activists gathered in Baltimore, MD, for a three- day conference to explore issues of social justice and advocacy at the Charlotte B. and Jack J. Spitzer B'nai B'rith Hillel Forum on Public Policy.
Held in conjunction with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Plenum, participants in both conferences were able to attend each others' sessions. They co-hosted several sessions including an opening forum titled "Facing Terror and Pursuing Peace."
Through a variety of workshops, seminars and panels, students from across the country met with world-renowned leaders and examined such issues as the environment, literacy, living wages, hunger and homelessness.
One session featured TeaEO of Honest Tea Seth Goldman who gave his personal account of how Judaism and ethics play a role in his daily decisions. He examined the importance of corporate responsibility and establishing a value-based sense of business priorities.
Students also met with key political leaders such as Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD).
Such emotional issues as freedom of speech, Israel, and the impending war with Iraq were also at the forefront of the conference's agenda. The town hall forum "Countdown to Peace or War" assessed the situation in Iraq and the debate about the war.
The conference also offered specialized tracks for students interested in journalism, the environment, grassroots organizing, or Israel, where participants met with prominent leaders in these fields.
A high point of the conference was the Monday evening keynote address by foster care advocate Terry Harrak. This prestigious annual lecture was named in honor of Hillel International Board of Governors member Henry Everett, a leading national supporter of social justice groups. Texas Hillel and Muhlenberg College student Alison Pofsky were both named Tzedek Exemplars of Excellence for their commitment to improving their communities.
On the final day, students lobbied on Capitol Hill for many of the issues they had discussed.