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Jewish students have matriculated at Stanford University since at least as far back as the 1930s, often coming together to socialize, celebrate, and study. But it wasn’t until 1965 that a full-time Hillel director was hired to help cultivate and facilitate Jewish life on the Stanford campus. Marking this milestone, Hillel’s Half-Century year, 2015 to 2016, celebrated the growth, innovation, and future of Jewish life at one of America’s leading universities. 

H i l l e l   a t   S t a n f o r d

H i s t o r i c a l   T i m e l i n e

1923/1924: The first Hillel unit was established in Champaign-Urbana in 1924. Berkeley's Hillel opened its doors four years later in the academic year 1928-1929.

1939-1949: Various informal Jewish Student groups, less than 3% Jewish population

1949: First Hillel student group established at Stanford, also a Brandeis Club established.

1959: Hillel foundation created, with first faculty advisor, Professor Howard Sachar

1960-1965: Hillel advisor, Harry May (1961-1965). Dedicated faculty and community members helped secure office space over a garage in Palo Alto, at 880 Emerson Street.

1965: The first full time Hillel director, Rabbi Charles Familant (1965-1975).

April-May 1966: Controversy to allow Jewish worship services at Old Union Clubhouse.

Fall,1966: First high holidays on the Stanford Campus/Women’s clubhouse.

Late 1960’s: The Hillel offices was moved from downtown Palo Alto to the clubhouse on campus.

1967: A watershed year for heightened Jewish identity and campus activism, after the

Six-Day war

1968: Stanford’s first official recognition of Jewish studies came in 1968 when Miriam (’51) and Aaron Roland provided a founding grant for a visiting lectureship in Jewish studies.

June 1973: Jewish Students of Stanford Union is created











August 1975: Rabbi Ari Cartun begins his tenure as Hillel at
Stanford Director (1975-1996)

May 1976 – March 1977: Hillel requests more space in Old Union

March 16, 1978: 250 people attended a rally in White Plaza protesting
the arrest of Anatoly Sharansky, a soviet Jew, which took place one year ago yesterday. 

March 1980: Jewish and Arab songs of peace were sung; Egyptian, Israeli, and American
flags waved at Stanford rally to honor the first exchange of ambassadors
between Israel and Egypt. 


January 1983: Hillel coordinated a joint student-faculty petition, sent to President Kennedy, requesting that University Registration and first day of classes never again fall on the High Holidays….Stanford’s schedule has been tailored to avoid such conflicts ever since.

April 18, 1986: Stanford rally draws attention to Soviet Jews. About 50 people gathered at White Plaza at Stanford University where students protested the oppression of Jews in the Soviet Union. 

January 5, 1979: Stanford Daily writes that Stanford Hillel's has 1200 members. "Most people would be surprised to learn that Hillel is the largest student organization on campus outside of ASSU---largest in that it schedules more activities each week and attracts more students than any other group.”


Fall 1987: Jewish incoming students have an official orientation slot. Guaranteed as long as “it’s ethnic as opposed to a religious orientation”

Spring 1988: Kosher Co-op was founded during spring quarter for students interested in cooking and eating kosher food. 

1988: Jewish students’ w/Jocelyn Reisman visit West Germany
in an exchange program: Bridge of Understanding sponsored by
the West German government through Stanford Hillel. 

1989-1990: Pamela Jay filled in for Rabbi Ari Cartun during
his sabbatical year.  


October 1989: an hour after the Loma Prieta earthquake, 40 people gathered
in Hillel's gigantic outdoor sukkah for dinner and singing, despite loud alarms
blaring across campus. 


September 27, 1991: Rabbi Ari Cartun says " I have a lot of PT Barnum in me….Hillel does a lot of overt, open, very public, high-profile actions." …the last decade in particular has seen a surge in Stanford's Jewish presence with at least one Jewish fraternity (Alpha Epsilon Pi), a full time Jewish chaplain at Stanford hospital, and organization for Jewish law and business students. The university's 5 year old Jewish studies program has continued to grow, gaining a reputation as one of the finest in the country. Cartun credits those rapid changes to Stanford President Donald Kennedy for his very enlightened policies. 

Oct 11, 1991: Kosher Co-op vandalized


Nov 14, 1991: Operation Solomon Photograph Exhibition at Tresidder Memorial Union Lounge, second Floor. Brought together both Black Community Services Center with Hillel. 


November 1993: Arabs and Israelis join in show of support and plant an olive tree in Old Union Courtyard

November 8, 1994: Students go to San Francisco to protest Russian Nationalist Zhirinovsky

2005: Moved into the Taube Hillel House at 565 Mayfield Ave.

April 13, 2008: Celebrated the dedication of the Koret Pavilion and the completion of the Harold and Libby Ziff center for Jewish Life

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