Wellesley Fires Hillel Staff; Students Face Anti-Israel Activity

November 24, 2014  

Wellesley College, a private all-girls institution in suburban Boston, has eliminated the posts of Hillel director and Jewish chaplain, Haaretz reported. 

The two part-time positions were removed last week after Wellesley announced its intentions to restructure the Hillel. They plan to hire a full-time rabbi to serve as Jewish chaplain. In the meantime, an interim Hillel director was hired to work night four to eight hours a week. 

The university, however, made the decision without input from current students, alumni, or other involved parties. 

“It makes me and other students feel like we just lost our support system and are on our own,” Tali Marcus, a senior psychology major who is co-president of Wellesley Friends of Israel, told the daily. “It’s really disconcerting.” 

Unfortunately, tensions between pro-Palestinian and Jewish communities on campus have been rising since early in the fall semester, making the loss of these two Jewish leaders all the more tangible. 

Shortly after the end of Operation Protective Edge, posters appeared on dining hall walls featuring images of Palestinian children killed or wounded in the war. 

Additionally, a large poster sponsored by Wellesley’s Students for Justice in Palestine was hung up in the student center. The poster asks ‘What does Zionism mean to you?” with room for people to fill in answers. Within one week “genocide,” “apartheid,” and “murder” could be seen at the bottom of the poster. 

Hillel-affiliated students met with SJP leaders to discuss the poster with the goal of promoting conversation, Jordan Hannink, a junior, Peace Studies major, said.  

Hannik added that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is an issue we want to discuss respectfully and without polarizing” the community. However, SJP leaders “said they were uninterested in these kinds of dialogic conversations.” 

Jewish students asked university officials to intervene and put a stop to such anti-Israel incidents on campus. However, no action has been taken and the dining hall posters remain in place, as does the one in the student center. 

“I firmly believe this college is becoming increasingly anti-Semitic,” Hannink wrote in a private email. 

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