Our Priorities

Hillel’s social impact is rooted in traditional Jewish imperatives: tzedek (justice), tikkun olam (repair the world), and gemilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness).

Areas of Focus

Hillel International is a signatory of the Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition, which launched on Sept. 15, 2022. Hillel released its first Climate Action Plan in 2023, and has now released a 2024 Climate Action Plan to work on reducing our climate impact worldwide. Hillel International supports students in climate action driven alternative break trips with $500 subsidies and educational resources to support their service and learning. Such trips include exploring food Justice on the farm with Urban Adamah in Berkeley, CA; climate activism with Adamah on Campus in Baltimore; and Water Torah with Repair the Sea in the Florida Keys.

The Service Engagement Internship – Powered by Repair the World and Hillel International – gives student interns the skills and resources to engage their peers in service, civic engagement, and social change work. In addition to stipends to support their work, Hillel and Repair provide foundational support to student interns, teaching the importance of hand-on service, issue-area education, application through a Jewish lens, and creating time for reflection. Area experts from partner organizations provide deep dive learning sessions for interns on topics including Racial Justice, Climate Justice, Disability Justice, and Food Justice, amongst others.

Learn more about Hillel International’s Guidelines for Ethical Volunteer Service.

As Hillel International’s mission states, our work does not stop with Jewish students and community. Our Movement Value of “Ahavat Am Yisrael/Ahavat HaBeriyot (Love of the Jewish People/Love of All Humanity)” reflects our commitment to work across communities.  With increasing polarization on campus and in larger society, building bridges and working across communities to deepen understanding and better the world is critically important to Hillel’s work on campus.

Our Interfaith Outreach Micro Grants are available to support projects that are the outgrowth of collaborative relationship-building between Jewish students and students from other faith traditions, and that result in expanding and strengthening relationships and deepened understanding among students from different faith traditions. Interfaith Outreach Micro Grants enable Hillel Students and Campus Hillel Organizations to develop and grow lasting relationships with students and/or student-centered organizations on campus across diverse faith traditions.

As campus environments, microcosms of the broader American environment, shift from levels of polarization that are generally healthy in a democracy, to toxic polarization – marked by the transition from regular disagreement between groups, to dislike and dehumanization of the perceived “other” – Hillel International is uniquely positioned to equip the future leaders of the Jewish community in resisting this trend. Despite the recent increase in toxic polarization and erosion of democratic norms, America’s democracy continues to be an essential vehicle for enabling the diverse communities that make up the American landscape to thrive. It is incumbent upon us all to join together to enable today’s students – and tomorrow’s leaders – to work across communities to strengthen American democracy and democratic norms so that Americans from all identity groups can thrive well into the future. The continued investment in bridge building work as well as the promotion of civic engagement for all students are the fundamental underpinnings of our Civic Engagement and MitzVote strategies. Hillel weaves together these civic engagement activities with bridge building strategies to ensure that today’s students are equipped to work across divides so that, together, they can build a stronger society for all tomorrow.

Hillel launched its civic engagement efforts with the creation of MitzVote in 2018, a campaign to equip students with the education and tools to fully participate in elections, while empowering student leaders to increase access for others to fully participate in the election process. Since that time, Hillel has expanded its civic engagement work by partnering with and emerging as a thought leader among national organizations including the Andrew Goodman Foundation, OneAmerica Movement, A More Perfect Union, and Interfaith America.

In the Spring of 2022, when the draft of the Dobbs Decision was publicly leaked, a diverse group of Hillel professionals volunteered to serve on a newly formed Reproductive Freedom and Abortion Access Field Advisory Committee. On June 24, 2022 the Dobbs Decision officially overturned Roe V. Wade and removed the federal protection for abortion care in the U.S. The committee has served to advise Hillel and guide the response to this unprecedented loss of legal protection.

Over the past year, the Committee has partnered with Hillel International’s Social Impact Team and National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) to create resources specifically for Hillel professionals and students. The goals in creating these resources are to ensure students know Hillel is a safe and supportive place for them, including when they may need reproductive health care; provide students with specific and relevant resources for those who need reproductive or gender-affirming health care; and do so without violating state law. 

Hillel International expands upon existing resources to support abortion access and reproductive freedom for staff and students in partnership with National Council of Jewish Women and others. Read Hillel International’s statement on abortion access. Click here for additional Reproductive Freedom and Abortion Access Resources.

Our Jewish values implore us to ‘seek justice and pursue it.’ In order for us to be partners in change to move racial justice and equity forward, we must understand the realities of the communities impacted on a daily basis. 

Hillel Social Impact hosts Black and Jewish Unity dinners, two-hour events that invite Black and Jewish students to forge relationships, build understanding, and spark eagerness to further engage in learning about how Black and Jewish communities can partner to create positive social change, including fighting anti-Black racism, antisemitism, and bigotry of all kinds.

Guided by our Hillel Movement value of B’tzelem Elohim (In the Divine Image): We welcome every student as their whole self, honoring their unique Jewish journeys as we empower their growth as individuals and Jews. Hillel International is a member of Thrive: The Jewish Coalition to Defend Trans and LGBQ+ Youth and  is a member of the Greater Washington – Keshet Shivyan Cohort, a group of organizations engaged in institutional self-assessment to evaluate their current policies, programs, and organizational culture. This assessment led to Hillel’s customized Action Plan with concrete objectives and a timetable for implementation. Keshet coaching assists Hillel in maintaining accountability and continued learning and implementation. Hillel International also partners with JQY to provide timely and meaningful resources for Queer Jews on campus.

Contact Hillel International Social Impact team for more information or to get involved: [email protected].