Hillel is a Jewish student organization in Columbia. It was founded at MU in 1947 and was housed in a rented space near the campus. Today, the building is at 1107 University Ave., and the group has 700 members.
According to former director Kerry Hollander, its mission “is to foster Jewish intellectual, spiritual, cultural and social life on the college and university campuses of mid-Missouri. Hillel strives to engage students who have not formed strong Jewish identities and to provide a forum for Jewish students to be aware of Jewish connections in their everyday life.”
Phone: (573) 443-7460
Address: 1107 University Ave.; Columbia, Mo. 65201
Hours: 8:30 to 4:30, Monday through Thursday; 8:30 to 8:30 Fridays with Shabbat Services at 6:00, Shabbat dinner at 7:00.
The first Hillel was founded in 1923 at the University of Illinois to provide cultural, educational, and religious opportunities for students.
The origins of Jewish campus life in Columbia began in 1937 when the Jewish Student Union was formed through the Missouri School of Religion, an entity separate from the university. Its staff included a Catholic priest and a Protestant minister but no Jewish leadership. At that time, there were about 300 Jewish students at MU, Stephens College and Christian College, now Columbia College.
Dr. Isadore Keyfitz of New York was hired to provide Hebrew classes and Jewish education. Students could enroll through the Missouri School of Religion or through the university to earn academic credit.
In 1947, Hillel was founded at MU. Its first home was a rented space near campus. In 1949, through the generosity of Kansas City donors including the Danziger family, a permanent site at 1107 University Ave., was purchased. That building was torn down in 1969 and the present building was dedicated in 1971. The Jewish Student Organization, the university-recognized student group on campus, is housed at Hillel, and is a member organization of the Missouri Student Association.
Each week there are student-led Shabbat services and a dinner at Hillel.
A board of directors includes representatives from the local and state Jewish communities, faculty and students in Columbia. The board provides funding for Jewish Student Organization programs.
The international organization, Hillel, is named after a Jewish scholar who lived in the first century. He founded a school of thought that looked at the Torah in an attempt to understand it. He is credited with this famous quote: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.
Links and sources
Official site: www.mizzouhillel.org
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Updated: April 3, 2013