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Hillel of the University of Minnesota records

Identifier: umja0023

Scope and Content

This collection consists of administrative records related to the Hillel organization at the University of Minnesota and date between 1898 and 2018. The collection includes correspondence; meeting minutes; programming and event planning including event ephemera such as posters, ticket stubs, fliers and buttons; clippings; and planning documents such as constitutions and by-laws. This collection also includes 1.61MB of electronic records, which consist of 74 digitally-born Word documents of board meeting minutes. Please note that access to these materials is limited to an on-site computer in our reading room.


  • Creation: 1898-2018


Use of Materials

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room. Note that electronic records must be accessed on the designated computer in the reading room.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives; please contact the archives for more detailed copyright information.

Historical Note

The precursor to Hillel on the University of Minnesota campus was the Menorah Society. Founded in 1903, the Menorah Society, also called the University Jewish Literary Society, was created to "cultivate interest in and discussion of topics related to Judaism," although it mainly acted as a social group. It enrolled Jewish faculty members and most of the Jewish students on campus, a group that was predominantly male. However, by 1926 nearly 50 percent of the society's 180 members were women. Funding and the lack of a permanent home were early concerns, and despite growing membership and activitity, the Menorah Society never had its own home. In the 1930s the United Jewish Fund gave them an emergency grant. Several other Jewish groups also existed on campus at the time, sponsored by Temple Israel (a local Minneapolis synagogue) and various Jewish professional and social fraternities and sororities.

Hillel International is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, starting first at the University of Illinois in 1923 and branching out to eventually include students at more than 550 colleges and universities across North America and around the world. The University of Minnesota Hillel Society was founded in 1940 with Rabbi Louis Milgrom acting as its first director, a position he would hold for 27 years. By 1941 the membership was over 500 members who enjoyed a full agenda of programs including classes, discussion groups, debate, drama, and social activities. Hillel activities were intended not to overlap with those of existing Jewish groups on campus, including the Menorah Society, which eventually merged with Hillel. The lack of a permanent home was an issue as early as 1943, and the United Jewish Fund and Council sanctioned a fund drive in 1945. Even without a home, activities included a model seder, Friday night services and dinners, and activities such as vocational guidance for returning veteran students. A permanent building, which remains their home to this day, was purchased in 1956 on University Avenue on the East Bank of the campus.

The Hillel program is funded by B'nai B'rith and the Jewish community federations, with supplementary funds provided by the university, alumni, and students. In the 1960s and 1970s, problems such as insufficient funding, unpaid pledges and declining student interest became more serious. New services such as non-credit Jewish studies classes, a kosher meat cooperative, and a Jewish bookstore were offered to increase relevance for its constituency. Rabbi Moshe Adler led Hillel through the 1970s and into the 1980s; in 1984 Rabbi Irvin Wise became the executive director. In 1981 the facilities were renovated. Currently, Hillel boasts a vibrant and engaged community with the continued vision of inspiring students to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning, and Israel. For more information regarding Hillel of the University of Minnesota, visit their website at


12.85 Cubic Feet (19.boxes -- 13 paige boxes, 2 Hollinger box, 1 oversize box, 3 cassette tape boxes)

1.61 Megabytes (74 Word Doc files)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of the records for the Hillel, the Jewish student organization at the University of Minnesota.


This collection is divided into series:

Series 1: Administrative and board meeting minutes

Series 2: General correspondence

Series 3: Publicity and events Series 4: Photographs, media, and artifacts

Source of acquisition

Donated to the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest by leaders of the Hillel organization over various years.

Separated Materials

Materials related to Hillel can be found in two other collections within the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives. The Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest media collection (umja0024) includes 23 reel to reel tapes of lectures associated with Hillel, along with three VHS tapes of events sponsored by Hillel. The Sharron and Oren Steinfeldt Photography collection (umja0017) includes 9 folders of photographs related to Hillel from 1940 to 1960.

Hillel of the University of Minnesota records, 1898-2018
Finding aid created by Kate Dietrick
March 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • June 2017: revised to include new acquisitions
  • October 2019: revised to include new acquisitions
  • January 2023: revised to include newly found materials

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Upper Midwest Jewish Archives Collecting Area