Soon after Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel was founded in 1944, William Lee Frost '47, one of its first members, wrote that he hoped the campus' primary Jewish organization would become "neither Zionist nor anti-Zionist, neither Orthodox nor Reform."
More than 50 years later, Hillel organizers say they are just as committed to inclusiveness in Harvard's Jewish community.
"We see ourselves as being a catalyst for Jewish life at Harvard," says Bernard Steinberg, Hillel's executive director. "We want to bring Jews of different groups together."
Home to Jewish students of various denominations--Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Resconstructionist among others--Hillel's Mt. Auburn Street building hosts several types of religious services, serves kosher meals and provides a variety of other cultural and social opportunities for students.
But part of its mission to accommodate as many people as possible means not taking stands on specific issues of Jewish law, says Michael Rosenberg '01, who chairs Hillel's student-run governing body.
And this commitment to inclusiveness, he admits, leads to some conflict between Jews who have different levels of observance.
"We ask how we can get the most people to participate," he says. "Sometimes not everyone can. There are certain situations where people disagree so much that they can't compromise without compromising their values."
A Diversity of Needs