Over 350 Jewish college activists discussed everything from Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ," to corporate responsibility, to immigrant rights, to Middle East peace at the annual Charlotte and Jack J. Spitzer B'nai B'rith Hillel Forum on Public Policy. The conference culminated in service projects across the Boston metropolitan area.
In additional to plenary sessions with world-renowned speakers, the students participated in workshops addressing such issues as immigrant rights, the Patriot Act, Gay rights, pro-Israel activism on campus, AIDS, free trade and the upcoming U.S. election.
Conference speakers included Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.); Dr. Aaron Miller, executive president of Seeds of Peace and a former State Department Middle East negotiator; Simpsons wirter and producer Mike Reiss, Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz; Ann Lewis, chair of the Democratic National Committee's Women's Vote; and Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, executive director of Tufts Hillel, who discussed the Jewish community of Uganda.
The service projects were conducted throughout the Boston area. At Cradles to Crayons in Quincy, the students packaged school supplies for needy children. They packaged foodstuffs at the Greater Boston Food Bank, helped with children in an after-school program at the YMCA of Boston, registered voters door-to-door through Dunk the Vote in Dorchester; and worked with the AIDS Action Committee in downtown Boston.
"The Spitzer Forum enables us to teach college students that social and economic equity is a fundamental value of Judaism," said Hillel President Avraham Infeld. "The students will return to their campuses better informed and better equipped to make an impact on their campuses and in their communities."