Divestment Resolution Update from Michigan Hillel


Divestment Resolution Update from Michigan Hillel

March 31, 2015

Dear Parents and Alumni,

Our March Parent & Alumni Newsletter will be delayed this week in order to share with you a divestment resolution update.  Central Student Government (CSG) will vote on a divestment resolution regarding Israel tomorrow, Tuesday, March 31st. Like many of you, we too are disappointed to see that this resolution has returned so soon after it was so resoundingly defeated last year. Fortunately, our campus has not been the site of the same level of protest that we witnessed last year.

Our Hillel staff, in particular Liraz Cohen our Israel Fellow, has been working all hours to support our Israel leadership, led by Jonathan Friedman (’16) our Israel Cohort Chair, in mobilizing their response to the divestment resolution in a campus-wide #WolveringsForPeace movement. Having already faced a similar resolution last year, our students have shown tremendous thoughtfulness regarding how to advocate for Israel, peace, coexistence and dialogue, while maintaining a strong sense of community on campus.

I encourage you to visit the #WoverinesForPeace website for more information and to see our students’ efforts firsthand. You will find a letter that you may sign as a parent or alum or concerned community member. What is most important is that students on campus sign this letter to show that there is no consensus on campus regarding this resolution. Please share widely. 

We respect and appreciate that there are many diverse opinions amongst Hillel students, including regarding this resolution. In addition to our students advocacy efforts, our Hillel hosted a dialogue event on Thursday night for students to talk about how they felt about this resolution returning to our campus.

We recognize how challenging the language of this resolution and the activism around Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) can be for many students. We want to assure you that, as always, our priority is our students and our community on campus. We are here for any student who is feeling impacted by this resolution. Please let us know if you have any concerns by reaching out to Tilly at tillys@umich.edu or 734-769-0500.


Tilly ShamesExecutive DirectorLynda Giles,Chair, Board of TrusteesAlex Adler (’16)Chair, Governing Board

April 2, 2015

Dear Hillel community,

For those who may not have yet heard the news, the Central Student Government (CSG) at the University of Michigan defeated the divestment resolution by a vote of 25 against, 15 for, and 1 abstention.  It was a very long night for CSG representatives -wrapping up well after midnight – and it was equally long for the hundreds of students in the room watching and speaking, and many of you who watched 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, just a feeling of hurt and sadness on all sides of this issue. We have much work to do on campus to build relationships and create more meaningful spaces of dialogue for students to express their narratives. We look forward to working with 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 Wolverines For Peace, which addressed the divestment resolution with tremendous thoughtfulness, determination, passion and compassion. Their efforts mobilized 1200+ members of our community to sign on to their letter opposing divestment from Israel. They remained respectful and continuously aware of the diversity, both within our own Hillel community and our campus community. 

Thank you to our tremendous student leadership and staff, in particular our Jewish Agency Israel Fellow, Liraz Cohen. We continue to check in with students, listen to their concerns, and work with them on steps forward for our campus.

And, finally, we want to thank our parents and alumni for all of your support of our Hillel and encouragement of our students. We know it can be hard to watch this unfold from far away. We appreciate the emails, calls and Facebook posts. We want to assure you that we are here for your students if they have any concerns they want to share wish us.

As we go into Passover, we celebrate our liberation from mitzrayim – not simply our liberation from Egypt but our liberation from “narrow places”. This holiday gives us the opportunity to reflect on what does it mean for us as a campus community to break free from the narrowness of limited civil discourse, of narrow binary approaches to a complicated conflict, and the narrowness that is caused by the walls we create around our communities.

We look forward to ensuring that our Hillel is a part of positive change, breaking down walls, and broadening partnerships and collaboration on campus. We will work with our university partners on developing broad spaces of dialogue in which our students can both listen and bring their full relationship with Israel and Jewish identity to the conversation.

Wishing you and your families a wonderful and meaningful Passover,


Tilly ShamesExecutive DirectorLynda Giles,Chair, Board of TrusteesAlex Adler (’16)Chair, Governing Board

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