New Jewish Group on Campus Causing Outrage - DatelineCarolina

USC Jewish Groups Debate Over One Group's Belief in Jesus

Members of Jewish Life on Campus host a bake sale in Russell House to raise money for their club. Members of Jewish Life on Campus host a bake sale in Russell House to raise money for their club.

By Amy Greenspan

Jewish Life on Campus is just the second Jewish organization created at USC.  But members of Hillel, a nationally recognized Jewish group that has been on USC's campus for over a decade, is not happy that JLOC claims they are Jewish, but follow the Christian belief that Jesus is the Messiah. 

JLOC members say they are not competing with Hillel.

"We are focusing more on the cultural side of Judaism and we are opening it up to everyone, not just Jewish people," says Tzedi Hulon, president of JLOC.

But that is the exact reason Hillel is upset.  Nobody in JLOC is Jewish, instead they call themselves Hebrew.  The members also believe Jesus was the Messiah.

"We believe in the Messiah.  We follow all the Old Testament laws but we weren't born Jewish and we have no plan on converting," says Hulon.

Members of USC's Hillel chapter are afraid that JLOC will turn new Jewish students away from joining a religious group on campus.

"I'm scared that it takes away from students who are looking for the Hillel experience, but might not know the name Hillel.  So they will go to Jewish Life on Campus and say this isn't for me," says Caroline Mayer, secretary of Hillel.

Hillel says the best solution would be for JLOC to just change its name, and the group is taking a petition asking that be done to Student Life.

"I just don't think it fits their group at all, something like Hebrew Life on Campus would be more acceptable," says Mayer.

USC Religious Professor Katjia Vehlow says changing the word Jewish to Hebrew would actually be more appropriate.

She says the Hebrew Movement is very common in the South and stems from the Southern Baptist religion.

"Many groups who started out as Christians, who were born Christians, are really going back to this idea, the rediscovery that Jesus was a Jew, to appropriate Jewish customs," says Vehlow.

Some Jews do not mind this new movement and find it flattering, while others find it offensive.

"For many this is a continuation of Christian disregard for Jewish tradition, for the sanctity of Jewish tradition.  And so they kind of bristle at this idea that people can eclectically choose certain practices," says Vehlow.

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