A Jewish student organization has existed at Southern Methodist University for many decades; however, in 1989, then SMU President, Kenneth Pye, challenged the Dallas Jewish community to establish a more formal presence on the campus. The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas led the initiative and established an organization by the name of Campus Jewish Network. This organization soon became known as SMU Hillel and was ably directed in the early years by Rabbi Nancy Kasten. In 1992, she was recognized for her leadership and was appointed Associate Chaplain of the University. Over the years, the University has continued and strengthened its commitment to a strong Jewish presence on campus and its ties to the greater Dallas Jewish community.
Rabbi Heidi Coretz was appointed Director in 2004. Under her leadership, programs have grown to once or twice a week and our profile on campus has been raised. She has welcomed new student leaders who have helped to shape our work on campus. She enjoys getting to know each member and join them as they grow on their spiritual and professional path.
Today, SMU has approximately 300 Jewish students and over 50 Jewish staff and faculty. We also have a Jewish Studies program that leads to a minor in Jewish Studies. With over twenty courses to choose from, the minor in Jewish studies offers students a multi-disciplinary examination of Jewish culture and religion as well as the Jewish people and the State of Israel.