The Institute Archives and Special Collections is pleased to have recently received and processed a donation from the MIT Hillel office. Highlights of the collection include many informal photographs of students at social and religious events sponsored by the Hillel office; posters publicizing events; newsletters; papers, drawings, and brochures about the award winning sukkah design from the early 1990s; and files from the original Director of the MIT Hillel office, Rabbi Herman Pollack. These records provide evidence of a vibrant Jewish community on campus as well as the evolution of MIT Hillel from its beginnings as the Menorah Society.
A Jewish organization on campus began in 1914 with the Menorah Society which was affiliated with the Intercollegiate Menorah Association (IMA). It provided educational, social, and cultural programs for Jewish students. 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. In the 1990s the national organization that began as B’nai B’rith Hillel became Hillel, The Foundation for Campus Jewish Life. Much of the material in the MIT Hillel records is from the 1950s to the early 2000s.