Leaders of B’nai B’rith and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life joined together in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the two organizations' historic partnership as Hillel kicks off a year-long celebration of its 85th anniversary. The leaders unveiled a plaque honoring B’nai B’rith’s role as Hillel’s sponsor from 1924-1994.
Moishe Smith and Julian Sandler unveil plaque in the lobby of Hillel's Schusterman International Center.
“Only B’nai B’rith had the vision to see the importance of a Jewish outlet for the growing number of students on college campuses,” said Hillel Board of Directors Chairman Julian Sandler. “With B’nai B’rith’s support and guidance, Hillel made an indelible impact on American Jewish life and the Jewish future.”
During 70 years of B’nai B’rith sponsorship, Hillel grew from a single group founded at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1923 to a global campus organization. Hillel separated from B’nai B’rith in 1994. Today Hillel is the largest Jewish campus organization, serving over 500 campuses around the world.
Moishe Smith, president of B’nai B’rith International, said that his organization raised Hillel from birth to adulthood until it “left the nest.” Addressing Hillel’s Board of Directors, Smith said, “We are happy to see that the child we raised is in good hands.”
Hillel professional Jamie Silverstein, a recent graduate from the University of Florida, added, “B’nai B’rith must have done a good job raising Hillel because we still embrace the values we learned under B’nai B’rith’s wing. I thank B’nai B’rith for its support -- not just for students of my generation, but for those of my parents’ and grandparents’ generations as well.”
Together with Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone, Smith and Sandler unveiled the B’nai B’rith plaque in the lobby of Hillel’s Schusterman International Center in downtown Washington, D.C. Also present at the ceremony were B’nai B’rith’s Honorary International Presidents Kent Schiner and Richard Heideman, Hillel Board of Directors members Barry Levin and Chuck Newman, and B’nai B’rith Associate Executive Vice President Mark Olshan.