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MIT Hillel Foundation records

Identifier: MC-0708

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The records of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Hillel Foundation, 1919-2013, contain ten linear feet of correspondence, meeting minutes, self-published newsletters and brochures, reports, photographs, posters, and scrapbooks, which document the organized activities of MITs’ Jewish student body. Much of the material provides evidence of social, academic, and religious events sponsored by MIT Hillel. Records were created by MIT Hillel staff, MIT Hillel students, and Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.

The bulk of the collection covers the years 1956 to 2010 and consists of publicity, Rabbi Pollack's papers, and photographs and reports collected by Miriam Rosenblum. Publicity items such as posters, leaflets, programs, and press releases related to events are found in boxes 1 and 2 and flat boxes 7 through 9. Alphabetical files P through Z from Rabbi Herman Pollack are found in boxes 2 and 3. Correspondence and photographs related to the Morris Burg lectures are in Rabbi Pollack's files as well as other publicity materials collected by him. Posters and promotional materials related to the Morris Burg lectures are also found in the publicity files. Photographs and reports are found in boxes 4 through 6. Photographs make up a large percentage of the collection and document Jewish student life and MIT Hillel events. Many of the photographs capture informal gatherings of students at campus events or at a MIT Hillel sponsored retreat or trip. Exceptions to this are the MIT Hillel Center by Steven Rosenthal professional photographs and professional portraits used for promoting events. Photographs are arranged chronologically. Most of the photographs are in their original envelopes from the commercial developer and have some labeling. Photographs from the 1990s and 2000s include compact discs also from the commercial developer. Newsletters are grouped together and arranged chronologically in box 2. Reports and meeting minutes are found in boxes 1 and 3 and include minutes from the Endowment Committee, reports of Student Board retreats, and Hillel Foundation reports such as self-assessment surveys and strategic plans.

One group of material labeled "Sukkah" contains materials relating to the yearly building of the sukkah and in particular the contest held in the early 1990s to design a new sukkah for MIT Hillel. These records include a grant application, architectural drawings and designs by contest winners Tzviyah Rosenstock and Avigail Shimshoni, promotional materials, and photographs. Materials documenting the sukkah are found in box 1 and box 10. Other design work in the collection is David Strauss designs for two arks also in box 1.


  • Creation: 1919-2013
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1956 - 2010


Access note

This collection is open.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.

Historical note

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Hillel Foundation is a campus chapter of the national organization Hillel, The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. MIT Hillel’s mission is to be the center for Jewish life at MIT and create a welcoming, pluralistic environment for all Jewish students, alumni, faculty, and staff.(1)

The MIT Hillel is run by a staff including a Rabbi who serves as director, educators, and administrative staff. Alumni serve on the board of directors, and current students participate through the student executive board for undergraduates and the graduate student board. Staff is responsible for religious leadership, running the office, leading retreats and trainings, and financial development. Students organize and run events.

In 1914 the Menorah Society, a group for Jewish men at MIT, was founded. The Menorah Society was affiliated with the Intercollegiate Menorah Association (IMA). It provided educational, social and cultural programs for Jewish students and in the 1930's began to admit women. During the 1920s and 1930s, as part of its social activities, the MIT Menorah Society hosted dances with societies at the all-female schools in Boston such as Simmons College and Radcliffe College. The Society continued on campus until the fall of 1945, at which time it was replaced by the MIT chapter of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation. In 1953 Rabbi Herman Pollack joined the MIT Hillel and became the first full time Director. Examples of academic activities hosted by Hillel include lectures such as the Morris Burg Memorial lectures in the 1960s and the lecture series Texts from Tech in the 1980s. Texts from Tech brought together distinguished MIT faculty to provide new interpretations of the Bible.

In the early 1990s MIT Hillel sponsored a contest for the design of a new sukkah. Drawing on the strong engineering and architectural design skills of the student body, Hillel sponsored an Independent Activities Period (IAP) session to find a new design. H. F. Tzviyah Rosenstock and Avigail Shimshoni were the principal designers with help and instruction from architecture Professor Leon B. Groisser. Construction began during IAP of 1992 and was completed in September 1992. In 1993 the MIT sukkah won the Elie Wiesel Award for Jewish Arts and Humanities and the award was presented to MIT Hillel by Elie Wiesel. The sukkah is built each year for Sukkot.(2)

(1) MIT Hillel mission statement, (2) Daniel C. Stevenson, "Hillel Wins Wiesel Award for Sukkah," The Tech 113, no. 59 (November 19, 1993).

List of directors:

Rabbi Herman Pollack (founding director)
Alan Lehman (part time program director)
Rabbi Mel Gottlieb
Rabbi Daniel R. Shevitz
Miriam Rosenblum
Rabbi Sam Seicol (interim director)
Rabbi Michelle Fisher


10 Cubic Feet (in 6 record cartons, 4 flat boxes)

Language of Materials



The records of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Hillel Foundation, bulk 1956-2010, contain ten linear feet of correspondence, meeting minutes, self-published newsletters and brochures, photographs, posters, and scrapbooks, which document the organized activities of MITs’ Jewish student body. Much of the material provides evidence of social, academic, and religious events sponsored by MIT Hillel.

Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Guide to the Records of MIT Hillel Foundation
Data Entry In Progress
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US