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Jason Rubenstein ’04 to Serve as Harvard Hillel Executive Director

Rabbi Jason Rubenstein will serve as the next executive director of Harvard Hillel, the center announced on Monday.
Rabbi Jason Rubenstein will serve as the next executive director of Harvard Hillel, the center announced on Monday. By Courtesy of Harvard Hillel
By Madeleine A. Hung, Crimson Staff Writer

Rabbi Jason B. Rubenstein ’04 will serve as the next executive director of Harvard Hillel, the organization announced in a press release Monday.

Rubenstein succeeds Rabbi Jonah C. Steinberg, who stepped down at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year after 12 years leading the University’s Jewish center. In the time it took Hillel to select a new executive director, Steinberg left his new role at the Anti-Defamation League and returned to Harvard as an adviser to the presidential task force on antisemitism.

Rubenstein’s appointment comes amid a heightened focus on antisemitism at Harvard.

The University’s response to antisemitism on campus following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel has become the center of attention for a congressional investigation into Harvard and contributed to former President Claudine Gay’s resignation earlier this year.

He previously served as the Jewish chaplain and senior rabbi for the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale University for the past six years. Before that, Rubenstein was the dean of students at the Hadar Institute, a center for Jewish education in New York, and was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Rubenstein said in the press release that it will be the “honor of a lifetime” to lead Harvard Hillel.

“My life is immeasurably richer for the people, ideas, and authentic ways of Jewish expression I encountered as an undergraduate at Hillel — and the Jewish world is profoundly shaped by the distinctive leadership of generations of Harvard alumni,” he wrote.

Interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 said in the press release that Rubenstein was a “superb choice.”

“His understanding of both the challenges and the opportunities — and his longstanding, deep connection to the Harvard community — will help enable his success,” Garber wrote. “He is an insightful thinker who has the compassion, temperament, and commitment to ensure that Harvard’s Jewish students will feel welcome and well-supported.”

While at Yale, Rubenstein led efforts to support students after Hamas’ attack on Israel, including writing an open letter about grief, the conflict, and campus antisemitism.

“The resurgence of antisemitism at Harvard and beyond since Oct. 7 has made the work of sustaining Harvard’s vibrant Jewish life that much more urgent,” Rubenstein said in Monday’s press release.

Harvard Hillel president Nathan B. Gershengorn ’26 also noted the importance of Hillel for Jewish Harvard affiliates in the aftermath of Oct. 7.

“Hillel has been more indispensable than ever for Jewish students at Harvard this year, serving as a safe and welcoming home away from home for so many of us when we have needed it most,” Gershengorn wrote. “We look forward to welcoming Rabbi Rubenstein back into our community.”

—Staff writer Madeleine A. Hung can be reached at madeleine.hung@thecrimson.com.

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