A Reflection on the Divestment Resolution Outcome
Dear Hillel community,
For those who may not have yet heard, the Central Student Government (CSG) at the University of Michigan defeated the divestment resolution by a vote of 13 for, 34 against, and 3 abstentions. It was a very long night for CSG representatives, wrapping up well after midnight. We know it was equally long for the hundreds of students in the room watching and speaking, and many of you who watched the live stream from home.
We are appreciative of CSG’s decision and its leadership. While this is the outcome that we hoped for and worked so hard to achieve, we do not feel this is a time for celebration on campus. There are no winners after a debate of this nature. We heard stories of pain and hardship on all sides of this conflict, and students from all perspectives who feel labeled and silenced on campus.
We have much work to do on campus to move forward. As many of you heard last night, there is a strong desire from students to invest in meaningful coexistence and peace-building projects, to listen to one another’s stories in dialogue, and to channel the passion and energy so many have around this conflict into productive change. We look forward to working with Central Student Government, university administration, and other partners as our campus moves forward from this resolution towards more productive and unifying conversations and actions.
We are grateful for the efforts of the student leadership of our Hillel community who addressed the divestment resolution with tremendous thoughtfulness, determination, passion and compassion. Despite the emotional week and evening, they remained respectful and continuously aware of the diversity, both within our own Hillel community and our campus community. The petition they drafted was signed by 5,805 people – nearly 2,000 students and over 3,000 alumni and community members – in just 48 hours. Thank you to all of you who joined this effort to make sure your voice was heard.
Thank you to our staff for your ongoing support of our community, in particular our Jewish Agency Israel Fellow, Liraz Cohen. We are all here to check in with students, listen to your concerns, and work with you on steps forward for our campus.
As we move forward, I am reflecting on this week’s torah portion, va’yerah, which begins with a sense of urgency. Abraham runs from the entrance of his tent to greet his guests and invite them to eat and drink. He rushes back to the tent to bring Sarah and his whole household with him. He runs back out to his herd to select the calf, which is then rushed to be prepared. We learn from this that when we see the opportunity to do good work, to fulfill a mitzvah, we should rush out to greet the opportunity.
While so many of you stepped up this past week to support Israel and to support your fellow students, I hope that we will continue to feel this sense of urgency for the work ahead on campus. Let’s not waste any time to listen to one another, develop outlets for more productive conversations, invest in peace-building efforts, and show up to support one another on our campus.
Chair, Board of Trustees
Eitan Katz (’17)
Chair, Governing Board