Harvard Elbows Out Non-Jews at Kosher Dining Hall

Only Jewish Students and Guests Can Eat at Hillel Chow Spot

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By JTA

Published November 16, 2012.
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Harvard University Dining Services has moved to curb the number of non-Jewish students at Harvard Hillel who eat at the kosher dining hall.

A sign posted last Friday at the entrance of the dining hall limited entry to “a member or an invited guest of Harvard’s diverse Jewish community,” The Harvard Crimson newspaper reported.

“The most important part of Hillel’s mission is hospitality,” Harvard Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Jonah Steinberg told The Crimson. “[The restriction] creates conflict with our inclusive and welcoming environment, but I understand HUDS’s concern about its budget.”

According to Steinberg, who has been in contact with HUDS, kosher meals at Hillel costs twice as much to prepare as meals in other dining halls.

“I don’t know how you could visually single out individuals as belonging or not belonging in a community,” Steinberg said. “I just hope we will work out a way with HUDS to make Hillel both a cost-efficient and a welcoming institution.”

The sudden change to the dining restriction has created confusion among students the 100 or so students who eat there, the paper reported. It’s not known exactly how many of those are Jewish.

“Nobody is happy about it,” Arun A. Viswanath, a former president of Hillel’s steering committee, told the paper. “This is not a question of who is Jewish and who isn’t, but more about how HUDS is going to pay for the meals.”

Likewise, Sara Kantor, the current president of Hillel, said the decision was an “unfortunate one.”


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