History

Hillel at the University of Michigan was the third Hillel Foundation in North America, established in 1926. Our Hillel has been housed at two locations at the University before moving into what was a house at 1429 Hill Street in 1942. The house was replaced by a large building in 1951 and that building in turn was replaced by the present Mandell L. Berman Center in 1988.

Michigan Hillel’s history matches the remarkable changes in the University and the times of the nation during its more than eight decades on campus. From its earliest days Hillel played a significant role in campus life, serving not only the religious needs of the campus Jewish community but also providing a center for social, political and artistic expression. In 1937, The Hillel Players produced the first play by an undergraduate by the name of Arthur Miller. During the Vietnam War years, Hillel was the locus of much of the campus debate and political action. In the 1980s Hillel began to play a major role in the intellectual and cultural life of the University with the launching of programs like Consider Magazine, Residence Hall Repertory Theater Company, and the Golden Apple Award. In 2012, the TAMID Israel Investment Group, incubated some years ago through Michigan Hillel, launched as a national organization and now has an international presence.

Today, the University of Michigan is widely regarded as one of the best schools in the country for Jewish students and our Hillel has played a major role in this national reputation. With our emphasis on student leadership and student-driven initiatives, Michigan Hillel has grown to house and support 55+ student groups. Michigan Hillel often ranks among the top Hillels in the country for several impactful areas, such as: taking the most students to Israel on Birthright Israel trips, having the most Camp Ramah alumni, and attending JFNA’s General Assembly conferences and AIPAC Policy Conferences with the largest delegation of students.

In 2012, the Fiske Guide to American Colleges cited the quality of Jewish life as a significant factor in the life of the campus at only two schools. One of them was the University of Michigan. And in 2016, our Hillel earned AIPAC’s “Duke Rudman Leadership Award”, the organization’s highest honor to recognize campuses leading in pro-Israel political leadership and activism.

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