Hillel International Raises $184 Million to Mark Centennial



April 16, 2024

1,000-person New York gala and summit concludes 18-month campaign marking a century of supporting Jewish students on campus

WASHINGTON – Hillel, the world’s largest Jewish campus organization, raised $184 million to support and sustain Jewish life at colleges and universities now and into the future during a time when antisemitism on campus has reached its highest levels on record. The Promise of a New Generation campaign, commemorating 100 years of Hillel’s impact, held its public celebration on Monday with a morning summit on Jewish campus life at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and an evening celebration that included more than 1,000 supporters, alumni and student leaders in the Hillel movement.

The evening celebration, which took place at Pier 60 in New York City, featured a live performance from award-winning actress and best-selling author Lea Michele, and video messages from actress Gal Gadot, actress Mayim Bialik and former Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, among many others.

The $184 million total, which includes gifts to 75 campus Hillel affiliates as well as Hillel International, eclipsed the campaign’s $150 million goal and reflects the broad commitment from philanthropists, large and small, toward the Jewish student experience in 2024 and beyond. The milestone comes one hundred years after Rabbi Benjamin Frankel launched the first Hillel in 1923 at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

At the Centennial celebration on Monday evening, Adam Lehman, president and CEO of Hillel International, emphasized the significance of the moment, sharing, “In fact, just like with the solar eclipse a week ago, the darkness of this current moment makes even clearer how brightly our Hillel light has shone through the years and especially now.” Lehman added, “Our work at Hillel has never been more relevant. Hillel is the answer to so many of the needs of young Jews today – the need for belonging, the need for a safe and inclusive community, the need for meaning and purpose, the need for insight, and the need for a platform that enables their personal growth and thriving. We are that platform.”

Monday evening’s milestone event comes at a moment when Hillel’s presence is more critical than ever. Since October 7 alone, Hillel has tracked more than 1,200 incidents of campus antisemitism, and responded with an unprecedented level of engagement, both with Jewish students and campus administrators. Hillel has served 180,000 Jewish students this academic year, the most ever in its history in a single year, with many participating in Hillel programming for the first time. This spring, 35 colleges and universities, including the entire University of California system, joined Hillel’s flagship Campus Climate Initiative – a unique model of partnership with college and university administrators to better support Jewish students by countering antisemitism on campus. 

Matthew Bronfman, chair of Hillel International’s Board of Governors, reflected, “Over the course of the past century, Hillel has been there as a rock and a foundation for Jewish students,  continuing to innovate to meet the needs of each generation. Hillel ensures that Jewish life on campus can thrive and Jewish life beyond campus has the needed pipeline of talent and leadership to create a stronger Jewish future for all of us.” 

Samantha Brody, a senior at Brandeis University and co-chair of the Hillel International Student Cabinet, looked back on Hillel’s first century of impact, sharing, “From its inception, Hillel has been a source of strength for Jewish students, evolving and adapting to meet the unique needs of each generation. Hillel empowers students to address the most pressing societal issues of their day through a Jewish lens, informed by Jewish values.” 

Gali Polichuk, a senior at the University of Florida and co-chair of the Hillel International Student Cabinet, added, “From that first tiny Hillel serving a handful of students at the University of Illinois, an entire movement has taken root and blossomed. Today Hillel has become the largest and most welcoming Jewish student organization in the world, with a presence on 850 campuses in 16 countries around the world.”

In addition to supporting Jewish student life on campus, the Hillel College Guide provides a unique resource to Jewish families before they arrive on campus. The Hillel College Guide features data on nearly 1,000 colleges and universities around the world, and was recently updated to include antisemitism-specific information, such as active US Department of Education Title VI investigations; boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) student government votes; and participation in Hillel’s Campus Climate Initiative to counter antisemitism.

Hillel’s Centennial campaign, which began at the end of 2022, far exceeded its initial goal of raising $150 million, a testament to the vibrancy of the Hillel movement.