update desk

Amid corona pandemic, Hillel International lays off or furloughs 20 percent of staff

There are an estimated 1,000 employees at Hillels across 18 countries, most of which are independent organizations but collaborate with Hillel International on fundraising and other operations.

Hillel Foundation International Center in Washington, D.C. Credit: Flickr.
Hillel Foundation International Center in Washington, D.C. Credit: Flickr.

Hillel International announced that it has laid off or furloughed 30 staff members—more than 20 percent of its workforce—at its Washington, D.C., headquarters amid the coronavirus pandemic that has all but shut off daily life, including on the 550 colleges where Hillel has a building servicing Jewish life on campus.

The moves were made last week, according to an email sent Friday to Hillel faculty nationwide. There are an estimated 1,000 employees at Hillels across 18 countries, most of which are independent organizations but collaborate with Hillel International on fundraising and other operations.

“Major areas of our activities and operations have been disrupted,” wrote CEO and Hillel International president Adam Lehman. “The far-reaching financial implications of the pandemic are negatively impacting our current fiscal-year results, and producing a very challenging and uncertain fundraising and financial outlook for the future.”

Hillel International did not disclose who was laid off and who furloughed.

In the mass email, Lehman stated that the soon-to-be former staffers would be employed “for the next several weeks,” during which laid-off personnel would get a “generous severance package,” in addition to a stipend to cover health costs and assistance in seeking new employment.

Those furloughed will continue receiving health benefits throughout their leave.

Hillel International vice president of communications Matthew Berger confirmed the decisions to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which first reported the Hillel International development, He assured that the organization will still be able to serve students despite classes moving online.

“We have taken numerous steps to support the professionals impacted by these changes,” he said, “and we’re confident these moves will best position us to continue supporting Hillels across our movement and to serving students, who will need us more than ever in the weeks and months to come.”

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