Israeli Emissaries & Hillel

Updates on Local Hillels and events for Young Adults

Jewish Life on College Campus, Sunday, January 31 at 11am at Zachs Hillel House

Sunday, January 31, 2016

11:00am – 12:30pm

Zachs Hillel House, Connecticut College

Are you a high school student who is thinking about college? Connecticut College students and Rabbi Susan Schein, Director of Zachs Hillel House and College Chaplain, will be hosting a roundtable discussion, “Jewish Life on College Campus Today: Challenges and Opportunities,” on Sunday, January 31, 2016.

                  You and your parents are invited to join the conversation over brunch from 11:00am to 12:30pm at Zachs      Hillel House on the campus of Connecticut College, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London. You can ask for direction to the building when you enter campus at the main gate.

                  This opportunity is presented through the collaborative efforts of Connecticut College Hillel, Zachs Hillel      House, area synagogues and the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut. RSVP not required.


Pre-registration for future Birthright trips opens September 8, 2015


Taglit-Birthright trips:

PRE-REGISTER TODAY AND GET AHEAD OF THE LINE!

REGISTRATION FOR TRIPS RUNNING FROM NOVEMBER 2015 - MARCH 2016 OPENS ON SEPTEMBER 8TH

Click here to visit birthright's web site for more information


Most Jewish students faced hostilities on North American campuses, study says

By JTA \

 

07/29/2015 01:40 Taken from The Jerusalem Post

Over one-quarter of respondents described hostility toward Israel on campus as “fairly” or “very big" problem, while nearly 15 percent reported the same level of hostility toward Jews.

DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST at Brandeis University against former US president Jimmy Carter’s book about the 

Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Most Jewish undergraduates have encountered anti-Israel and/or anti-Semitic attitudes on campus, but they have not diminished their feelings of connection to Israel, a new study about anti-Semitism at North American universities found.

According to the Brandeis University study released Tuesday, a few schools, among them Canadian universities and schools in the California state system, have “particularly high levels of hostility toward Jews or Israel.”

The online survey of over 3,000 North American college students who have applied for a Birthright Israel trip — but have not yet taken the 10-day journey — found that one-third of respondents reported having been verbally harassed during the past year because they were Jewish. Nearly three-quarters said they had been exposed to at least one of six anti-Semitic statements, including the claims that Jews have too much power and that Israelis behave “like Nazis” toward the Palestinians.

More than one-quarter of respondents described hostility toward Israel by their campus peers as a “fairly” or “very big” problem, while nearly 15 percent reported the same level of hostility toward Jews.

The study, which was conducted in April by the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis, also found that nearly one-quarter of respondents reported “having been blamed during the past year for the actions of Israel because they were Jewish.”

Despite viewing their campuses as hostile to Israel, two-thirds of students said they felt connected to Israel, levels that “are higher than those found among similar individuals in 2014, before the Israel-Hamas conflict,” the study found. The feeling of connectedness did not mean the students followed Israeli news: Less than a quarter said they had followed news of the Israeli elections, and respondents “appear to have a low level of knowledge and/or few firm convictions about Israeli politics.”

The study comes five months after an online survey of 1,157 American Jewish students conducted by Trinity College professors reported that 54 percent had witnessed or experienced an anti-Semitic incident on campus. That study was conducted a year earlier, in the spring of 2014. 


Hillel Chanukah Party at Connecticut College

More than 60 students came together on Friday evening, December 12 to celebrate Shabbat and the first Chanukah at the new Zachs Hillel House. Most students will be on their way home by the start of the Festival of Lights on Tuesday, December 16 for semester break. Joel and Roz Etra, Libby and Margot Friedman, and Jerry Schwell volunteered to help produce the Chanukah party for the students.


Connecticut College joins 'Carrying the Weight Together' for sexual assault survivors

Connecticut College students Sal Bigay and Sammi Brown carry a dormitory mattress down the walkway to Fanning Hall Wednesday, October 29, 2014 as part of "Carrying the Weight Together" a national day of action at colleges and universities across the country to support survivors of sexual assault. "Carrying the Weight" evolved out of the work of Columbia University art student Emma Sulkowicz who's endurance performance art piece "Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight" started with a pledge to carry her dorm mattress around her campus as long as a student she had accused of sexually assaulting her was still enrolled. Photo by Sean D. Elliot/The Day


Published October 29. 2014 5:21PM | Updated October 29. 2014 6:14PM

By Sean D. Elliot | Publication: theday.com

New London - Connecticut College students Sal Bigay and Sammi Brown carried a dormitory mattress down the walkway to Fanning Hall Wednesday as part of "Carrying the Weight Together" a national day of action at colleges and universities across the country to support survivors of sexual assault.

"Carrying the Weight" evolved out of the work of Columbia University art student Emma Sulkowicz whose endurance performance art piece "Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight" started with a pledge to carry her dorm mattress around her campus as long as a student she had accused of sexually assaulting her was still enrolled.

Students at the college took turns carrying the mattress from class to class and collecting signatures to show solidarity with the cause. 

New Hillel Director, Rabbi Susan Schien, welcomed to Connecticut College

New Hillel director Rabbi Susan Schein (r) was welcomed to Connecticut College on Friday, September 12, at a Erev Shabbat reception in the Zachs Hillel House by students, faculty and Jewish community members. Here she is photographed with Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron.


Jewish College Student Survey: Israel is Most "Crucial Issue" For Young Jews Today


13% of respondents exclusively date Jews on campus.

By Zachary Schrieber / September 19, 2014 / Taken from Jewcy


In case you were wondering what to discuss with your family when you’re home from school for Rosh Hashanah, Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar at the Trinity College Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture have released the preliminary findings of a survey of Jewish students on college campuses, New Voices reports.

Not surprisingly, the results point to similar trends as the Pew Research Center’s 2013 Portrait of Jewish Americans, but there are some significant differences that show how Jewish life in America is slowly changing, particularly among Millennials.

There are two fundamental events that defined world Jewry in the 20th century: the Holocaust, and the creation of the State of Israel. The college-aged Jews surveyed by Kosmin and Keysar believe these events to be less important in their definition of “being Jewish” than the Pew survey respondents.

60 percent of college-aged students said that “remembering the Holocaust” was “very important” to being Jewish, whereas 73 percent of Pew respondents said it was “essential.” That the Holocaust is losing its prominence as an important part of American Jewish identity may be surprising to older generations, but it is not shocking. As we move further away from the events of World War II, and survivors are no longer alive to personally relate their stories, the Holocaust becomes more of a historical event than a communal or familial one.

35 percent of the students surveyed by Kosmin and Keysar felt the Jewish state was “very important” to being Jewish, while 43 percent of Pew respondents said supporting Israel was an “essential” part of being Jewish. Yet, 62 percent of the college students had visited Israel (21 percent on a Birthright trip)—significantly higher that the 43 percent of Pew respondents who had been to Israel.

Also noteworthy: the students named Israel as a “top concern” when asked to identify the “crucial issues” concerning young Jews today. Given that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a hot-button issue on campuses across America—New Voices editor Derek M. Kwait refers to its “amoeba-like takeover of all Jewish life on campus”—it’s not surprising that some Jewish college students consider their religious and cultural identity to be separate from Israel. But the high percentage of students who have visited—and their degree of concern—indicates that they are still vitally engaged with Israel, although perhaps more critically than their parents.

The survey also shows an interesting balance between religious identity and the level of participation at religious services. 39 percent of Jews on campus considered themselves “secular” and just 23 percent identified as “religious” (quite different from the American college student population as a whole, where 32 percent identify as “religious” and 28 percent as “secular”). Yet, the survey also highlights that young Jews participate in religious services in higher numbers on a weekly and monthly basis than the American Jewish population as a whole. Fewer identify as “High Holiday Jews” than in the general Jewish population, but—puzzlingly—a greater number never attend services at all. “This seems to speak to the larger trend of our generation’s loathing of lip-service,” writes Kwait. “If we believe, we take it seriously (even if we take it seriously in a non-traditional way) and if we don’t believe, why bother with it at all.”

Some other fun facts to take away (approximate numbers):

1. 20% see “having a good sense of humor” as necessary to the Jewish identity.

2. 80% had a bar/bat mitzvah.

3. 40% say having Jewish children is a very important part of being Jewish.

4. 13% exclusively date Jews on campus.

5. 80% identify Judaism as a culture; 60% as a religious group; 40% as an ethnic group.

6. 64% were descendants of four Jewish grandparents.

As with any preliminary survey results, the findings are not 100% conclusive, but it’s still fascinating to look at the statistics and see what they point to. We’ll keep you posted on the final survey results, which will no doubt provide more clarity and provoke more questions.


President of Hillel calls on Ohio University Apology for Arrests


Jewish Students Were Protesting 'Blood Bucket' Challenge

By JTA | Published September 13, 2014 Taken from Jewish Daily Forward

The President of Hillel International called on Ohio University to apologize to four pro-Israel students who were arrested during a protest.

“I cannot understand how the university administration could have possibly allowed the university police to arrest these students,” Eric Fingerhut said in his letter Friday to Roderick David, the university’s president. “These students are owed an apology from the university.

Pro-Israel students had staged a filibuster during Wednesday night’s meeting of the Ohio University Student Senate. The students called for the resignation of Student Senate President Megan Marzec over a recently recorded video in which Marzec poured a bucket of “blood” (red-colored water) over her head to support the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

When the protesters would not stop speaking, Marzec asked the Senate to vote on whether the protesters should be arrested, and when that was approved, police removed them.

They were charged with a fourth degree misdemeanor, disturbing a lawful meeting.

Fingerhut, a former U.S. congressman from Ohio, noted his longstanding relationship with the university in his letter.

“I urge you to personally take charge of the university’s response to the arrest of the students, and to see that this wrong is made right,” Fingerhut wrote.

Yale Chaplain Who Wrote Controversial NYT Letter Resigns


Claimed ‘best antidote’ to anti-Semitism was for Jews to pressure Israel


Taken from Tablet | By Yair Rosenberg|September 8, 2014 10:27 AM


Yale University in New Haven, Conn. (Shutterstock)

Rev. Bruce Shipman, the Episcopal chaplain at Yale, has resigned in the wake of controversy over a New York Times letter he wrote suggesting Jews were collectively culpable for Israel’s actions and for subsequent rises in global anti-Semitism. “The Rev. Bruce M. Shipman, on his own initiative, has resigned as Priest-in-Charge of the Episcopal Church at Yale, effective immediately,” said a statement released by the Episcopal Church at Yale. “It is our belief that the dynamics between the Board of Governors and the Priest-in-Charge occasioned the resignation of the Rev. Shipman.”

In his letter to the Times, written in response to Deborah Lipstadt’s op-ed about rising European anti-Semitism, Shipman claimed that “the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be for Israel’s patrons abroad to press the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for final-status resolution to the Palestinian question.” Many readers expressed outrage at what they deemed Shipman’s exercise in victim-blaming, and an attempt to hold all Jews across the globe responsible for the actions of the Israeli state. As Bard College’s Walter Russell Mead put it,

No, the best antidote to anti-Semitism would be a realization among cretins that “the Jews” are a group of people with very different opinions and desires, that they do not act in concert, and that individual Yale students, for example, of Jewish descent who are American citizens have zero responsibility for any policies of the government of Israel. Anti-Semitism is like racism: most racists don’t think of themselves as racists and most anti-Semites similarly don’t recognize their own twisted prejudice. Perhaps the chaplain at Yale should reflect on the passage in which a well known first century Jewish rabbi urged his followers to take the log out of their own eye before trying to take the splinter out of someone else’s.

Our own editor Mark Oppenheimer also questioned Shipman’s moral calculus:

By your reasoning, why wouldn’t one write, “The best antidote to stop-and-frisk policing would be for black men everywhere to press other black men to stop shooting each other”? Why wouldn’t one write—perhaps after a Muslim was beaten up by white-supremacist thugs—“The best antidote to Islamophobia would be for radical Islam’s patrons abroad to press ISIS and Al Qaeda to just cut it out”?

“Institutional Christianity continues to display its unrivaled expertise in the field” of “combating anti-Semitism,” quipped Berkeley’s David Schraub. In a later post, Schraub observed that someone like Shipman who insists that Jews behave in gentile-approved ways in order to live unmolested is perpetuating a world governed by anti-Semitic assumptions:

[I]t probably is the case that a non-Jew is less likely to punch a Jew in the face if he perceives Jews (as a group) as largely behaving in ways he sees as salutary. But that does not mean there is necessarily less anti-Semitism in such a state of affairs, if this view is transformed into an entitlement to such agreeability from Jews. That’s just anti-Semitism in a different form; the “safety” it provides to Jews [is] purchased at the price of their independence. Anyone can have positive attitudes towards groups who behave in ways they like; the true test of egalitarianism is respecting the minority when it behaves differently than how you’d want it to.

It seems the Episcopal Church at Yale agreed–or at least felt that someone who harbored Shipman’s views would not be the best face to represent their organization on campus. Hopefully, this episode will serve as a reminder that the “best antidote” to bigotry is always to fight the bigotry, not call on its victims to somehow attempt to appease their despisers.


Professor's Angry Tweets on Gaza Cost Him a Job

By Robert Mackey | September 12, 2014 | Taken from The New York Times

The trustees of the University of Illinois voted on Thursday to block the appointment of Steven Salaita, a Palestinian-American professor who had been offered a tenured position last year, following a campaign by pro-Israel students, faculty members and donors who contended that his Twitter comments on the bombardment of Gaza this summer were anti-Semitic.

“Hate speech is never acceptable for those applying for a tenured position; incitement to violence is never acceptable,” Josh Cooper, a college senior who collected 1,300 signatures on a petition against the appointment, told the trustees before the vote. The student, a former intern for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, added that “there must be a relationship between free speech and civility.”

“The lack of civility itself is a mechanism for silencing alternative views,” he said.

Speaking after the vote, the university’s president, Robert Easter, endorsed the contention of pro-Israel students, saying, “Professor Salaita’s approach indicates he would be incapable of fostering a classroom environment where conflicting opinions would be given equal consideration.”

The professor strongly rejected those accusations, telling The Jewish Daily Forward that a selection of his most inflammatory comments, quoted in letters of complaint to the university’s chancellor, Phyllis Wise, were “pulled out of a much larger history of tweeting and general political commentary that indicates quite strongly and clearly that I’m deeply opposed to all forms of bigotry and racism including anti-Semitism.” His lawyer told The Urbana News-Gazette on Friday that Mr. Salaita could now seek a court order to force the university to make good on the job offer he accepted late last year.

Mr. Salaita had been scheduled to teach two classes in the university’s American Indian Studies department this fall before supporters of Israel drew attention to his Twitter feed, where he had expressed outrage over Israel’s Gaza offensive in polemical comments that often seemed intended to shock.

 

 

In a statement released after the vote, the professor said that he was disappointed that the trustees had ignored “a less-notorious tweet,” in which he wrote that his objections to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians were not motivated by race.

In an open letter to the chancellor, Michael Rothberg, the head of the university’s English department and the director of its Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies, also defended Mr. Salaita against charges of anti-Semitism. “The tweets that have been reproduced again and again in reports on this case are not expressions of antisemitism,” he wrote, “but criticism of how charges of antisemitism are used to excuse otherwise inexcusable actions.”

“I would not deny,” Mr. Rothberg added, “that Professor Salaita’s tweets are frequently expressed in strong language, and I share what I imagine is your preference for a civil tone in public discourse. But there are moments — like the recent bombing campaign — when we may need to expand our notion of what constitutes an acceptable tone so that it is commensurate with the events at stake.”

Several of the comments that supporters of Israel took exception to referred to parallels Mr. Salaita has drawn in his work between the experiences of Native Americans and Palestinians. When he was recommended for tenure last year, this was seen by the university as a strength. “The uniqueness of his scholarship on the intersection of American-Indian, Palestinian, and American-Palestinian experiences,” one reviewer argued, “presents a rare opportunity to add an esoteric perspective on indigeneity to our cultural studies programs on campus.”

But last month, just two weeks before he was scheduled to begin work, the university’s chancellor abruptly informed Mr. Salaita that the job offer had been rescinded because approval by the trustees, who usually defer to faculty on hiring matters, was unlikely in his case. Her decision was strongly opposed by the American Indian Studies department and other members of the faculty who argued that it was an infringement of academic freedom.

In a blog post written last month, the chancellor insisted that her decision to stop Mr. Salaita from taking up his post “was not influenced in any way by his positions on the conflict in the Middle East nor his criticism of Israel.” The issue, she said, was the “uncivil” tenor of his comments, and concerns expressed by pro-Israel students who said that they would feel intimidated by the professor.

“What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois,” Ms. Wise wrote last month, “are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.”

“It’s about feeling safe on campus,” Noah Feingold, a member of a pro-Israel student group, told The Forward. “This is a professor who tweeted that if you support Israel, you’re an awful person.”

A trove of internal university documents released after Freedom of Information requests showed that the chancellor acted after hearing from dozens of students and alumni, including donors to the university who threatened to stop giving if Mr. Salaita was allowed to teach at the school.

In an address to his supporters at the university earlier this week, Mr. Salaita said that the chancellor’s claim that his comments on Twitter were “uncivil” set “a perilous standard that risks eviscerating the principle of academic freedom.”

Video of Steven Salaita addressing his supporters at the University of Illinois on Tuesday. Illinois Public Media, via YouTube

“Even more troubling,” he added, “are the documented revelations that the decision to terminate me is a result of pressure from wealthy donors — individuals who expressly dislike my political views.”

The campaign against him, Mr. Salaita said, was just “part of a nationwide, concerted effort by wealthy and well-organized groups to attack pro-Palestinian students and faculty and silence their speech. This risks creating a Palestinian exception to the First Amendment and to academic freedom.”

The case has divided the university’s Urbana-Champaign campus, and its handling has been condemned by academic groups concerned about the implications for free speech and the principle of shared governance, which means that the administration generally defers to the faculty when it comes to hiring and tenure.

After Thursday’s vote, the director of the American Indian Studies program, Robert Warrior, called the decision to rescind the job offer to Mr. Salaita, who gave up a tenured position at Virginia Tech, “despicable,” in an interview with The Electronic Intifada, a website founded by the Palestinian-American activist Ali Abunimah.

Robert Warrior, the director of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois, spoke on Thursday about the blocked appointment of Prof. Steven Salaita. Ali Abunimah, via YouTube

Mr. Warrior’s department, and 10 others at the university, voted to endorse a “no confidence” motion against the chancellor as a result of her decision.

However, Cary Nelson, an English professor and a former president of the American Association of University Professors, who has been an outspoken advocate of academic freedom in the past, gave strong support to the university’s decision. Mr. Nelson told Inside Higher Ed that he knew of “no other senior faculty member tweeting such venomous statements — and certainly not in such an obsessively driven way.”

“There are scores of over-the-top Salaita tweets,” he added.

Mr. Nelson, an adviser to the advocacy group Israel on Campus, is also a leading opponent of the movement to isolate Israel through a campaign known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (or B.D.S.). Late last year, two months after Mr. Salaita accepted the offer of a tenured position there, the chancellor said in a statement that “the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign opposes the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”

According to The Electronic Intifada, Mr. Salaita “was a prominent campaigner for the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions last December.” In fact, Mr. Salaita even wrote a post for The Electronic Intifada in May headlined “How to Practice B.D.S. in Academe.”


Sexual Assault and Double Standards


Looking for Justice: Senator Kristen Gillibrand embraces End Rape on Campus co-founder Andrea Pino, a survivor of sexual assault at the University of North Carolina, during a news conference in July about new legislation aimed at curbing sexual assaults on college campuses.

Elissa Strauss

Published September 09, 2014, issue of September 12, 2014.

Taken from Forward

Imagine we learned that 20% of Jews who attend college will experience an anti-Semitic assault by the time they are seniors. We’re talking about nice Jewish girls and boys who are just looking to have a regular college experience, including late-night trips home from the library and from drinking a little too much with friends on the weekend. Sometimes they know the assailant and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes things are hazy as they begin, but by the end it is clear that the Jew was violated.

What would we do about this?

Would we tell Jews not to walk around alone at night? Best to develop a buddy system rather than take the risk that is moving around on one’s own.

Or would we tell them not to drink, because the vast majority of assault cases happen to intoxicated Jews? Also, when Jews drink they are more likely to feel a sense of guilt and shame, as they have reason to question whether they had somehow asked for it; this makes them less likely to prosecute.

Or maybe we’d tell them to downplay their Jewiness. Straighten their hair, fix their noses and absolutely zero talk of summers at Camp Ramah. Oh, and best to avoid all displays of wealth, and heck, even asking a waitress if they can sit at a better table, because when they showcase their Jewishness like that, they are just asking for it.

Best of all, maybe a bunch of guys in a lab will come up with an easy way to detect whether or not they are fraternizing with anti-Semites. Perhaps a nail polish that will allow them to detect sedative drugs that anti-Semites often slip in Jews’ drinks to make it easier to take advantage of them. Just one swirl in your drink, Jews, and you can quickly determine whether those new “friends” are planning on assaulting you later.

We wouldn’t stand for any of this right?

No, we wouldn’t.

We would be shocked, shocked by everyone’s insistence that we are ultimately responsible for protecting ourselves. We would demand that, instead, the energy went into fighting anti-Semitism. We would call for more public education, for all ages and all sorts of people, explaining why it is simply not okay to assault Jews just because they feel like it. We would insist that we don’t owe anything to our assailants and the institutions that support them.

Well, this is exactly how women feel about our current discussion on sexual assault. Everything I listed above is a real suggestion or solution for women on how to avoid rape. It sounds ridiculous in another context, right?

Listen, I believe that those behind these ideas mean well. And I believe that they might work to prevent assault. Frankly, if I had a college-bound daughter I might tell her to do the same, in the privacy of our home. Because as things stand now, with those guilty of sexual assault getting away with it, often with the help of universities, it can’t hurt for young women to take extra precautions on their own. (Just this August a male senior at Stanford University was quoted in Bloomberg comparing a drunk woman to an unlocked bike, because both involve someone taking on “undue risk.”)

But then I would remind her that it isn’t fair or right and that what is really in her best interest is to fight against the larger culture that leads to assault. I’d tell her that men’s urges are absolutely controllable, and that there is something we can do to make sure the small percentage of men who rape get better at controlling theirs.

Speaking with NPR, anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday, author of “Fraternity Gang Rape: Sex, Brotherhood, and Privilege on Campus,” explained that we need to seriously re-examine the “U.S. cultural privileging of male sexual aggression on the grounds that because it is ‘natural’ it cannot be questioned. Anthropological research and fieldwork… dispute this assumption. There is wide variability in sexual customs ranging from societies in which sexual aggression is rare to those in which it is common.”

Sanday explained that sexual aggression is often related to societies that emphasize “male toughness and competition and a low respect for women as citizens. In the rape-free societies I studied, rape is punished and both sexes hold exalted positions in public decision-making and both are integrated and equal in the affairs of everyday life.”

So there’s work to do. And there is reason to be hopeful, as campuses across the country are starting to make meaningful changes.

In the meantime, I say let’s follow Golda Meir’s suggestion when she was informed of a violent rape epidemic in Israel and someone suggested that the nation’s women go under curfew until they have found the assailants: “Men are committing the rapes. Let them be put under curfew.”

Elissa Strauss is a contributing editor to the Forward.


Israeli government urges young U.S. Jews: Leave humdrum life, study in Israel


WATCH: New video campaign features Israeli beaches, chest hair, hot girls and camels as the alternative to boring suburban U.S. future.

By Allison Kaplan Sommer | Sep. 9, 2014 | 6:58 PM
Taken from Haaretz

It’s a humorous campaign that might have been just a tiny bit more effective a few months ago- before Israeli beachgoers were splashed all over the international news, running through the sand to escape Hamas rockets.

But the new commercial, launched by the government in an attempt to lure Diaspora youth - specifically North Americans and Russians- is still highly entertaining. It offers Israel as an exciting alternative to the predictable future that a young curly-haired Jewish guy can expect to have in exile. The conventional future presented does seem a bit outdated: house in the suburbs, the wife, the kids, the pot belly - and “Shabbat dinner with the in-laws,” a continuation of a cookie-cutter high school and college career, a tableau that some Diaspora Jews may very well find offensive.

The Israeli alternative is presented as a chaotic and colorful Zohan-esque, Birthright-evocative exaggerated scenario on the beach. The young hero’s chest is suddenly covered with a carpet of dark hair, he is presented with a slew of exciting activities - success in hi-tech, stuffing his face with falafel, yelling at strangers in a movie theater.

The penultimate scene, in the video, which debuted Tuesday, with clear aspirations to go viral, shows our hero, perched on a camel on the beach, with a hot sabra girlfriend in front of him with tan shorts and khaki legs, playing the infamous Israeli beach paddle-ball variant game - matkot.

The edgy strategy that should help intrigue the young people that view the video to consider such an adventure - though its stereotype approach also runs the risk of angering American Jews, just as a previous government attempt at a video campaign did.

Whether the actual state of Israel that confronts those who end up hopping on a plane can live up to their expectations is another story.


Rabbi Susan Schein Named Director of Connecticut College's Zachs Hillel House

New London
 - Susan Schein, a rabbi with leadership experience on college and university campuses, has been named director of Connecticut College's new Zachs Hillel House.

Schein was previously the coordinator for spiritual development at Philadelphia University. She has also served as Hillel director at Bucknell University and program director at the St. Louis Hillel Foundation, where she worked with students at Washington University and other campuses throughout the metropolitan area.

"With her keen ability to listen as she provides guidance to students, her professional experience in small college communities, and her deep understanding of Jewish culture and religious traditions, Rabbi Schein will be a successful leader for our new Hillel House," said Carolyn Denard, dean of the College and senior diversity officer.

Schein's primary role will be working with students. She will also serve as a resource for faculty and staff and an important liaison to the New London Jewish community, as well as a supportive colleague to Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg, the College's Jewish chaplain.

Schein was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2003 and previously served as associate rabbi for Congregation Kol Emit in Yardley, Pa. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science and German language and literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in German literature from Washington University in St. Louis. 

Schein's selection marks another milestone for the Zachs Hillel House, which opened on campus in January 2014 and was dedicated in the spring. Connecticut-based entrepreneur and philanthropist Henry Zachs made construction possible through a $1 million gift.

The directorship is endowed through two gifts totaling $600,000, including a d $350,000 grant from the David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation to support the cost of the director's compensation over five years, and a $250,000 lead gift from Elizabeth B. and Arthur E. Roswell toward establishing an endowment for the Hillel director position.

(taken from Connecticut College's News)

Some US Colleges calling students back from Israel

Stephen Singer Associated Press

POSTED: 8/21/2014 12:30 PM MDT

In this 2014 photo provided by Michigan State University, students in the school's Summer Study Abroad Program take a break while hiking in Israel. Some U.S. colleges have now pulled students from their overseas study programs in Israel as the Gaza War rages. Colleges site security as top concern. (AP Photo/Michigan State University) (AP)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Some U.S. colleges are puling students from overseas study programs in Israel as the Gaza war rages, though the relative calm beyond the immediate battle areas is raising questions in some quarters about why they had to leave.

Colleges say security was the top concern, citing advisories about hazardous travel from the U.S. State Department and from insurance companies that cover students for health, accidents, security and even the cost of evacuation.

"On the one hand, we want to introduce students to the dimensions of conflict," said Yehuda Lukacs, director of the Center for Global Education at George Mason University in Virginia. "But this was too much because their safety and security were challenged."

It's not the first time colleges have withdrawn - at least temporarily - from overseas study programs because of conflict. Just recently, the University of Massachusetts Amherst suspended programs in war-torn Syria, and St. Lawrence University in New York called off its program in Kenya of fall, citing a State Department travel advisory. But the United States' close ties with Israel, along with the distance of many of the programs from the central areas of conflict, are leaving colleges far from unified.

Suhaib Khan, a George Mason senior who worked in Ramallah in the West Bank in a program helping to promote Palestinian businesses, said he was "incredibly disappointed" that he was forced to leave prematurely. He arrived June 6 and left July 9, about a month early.

"As an adult, I could have made my own decisions," said Khan, 21.

George Mason was one of at least seven schools nationwide to suspend a summer study program that operates in Israel or the West Bank. Others include Claremont McKenna College in California, UMass Amherst, the University of Iowa, Trinity College in Hartford, Michigan State and Penn State. Some universities in Europe postponed summer programs. UMass Amherst and New York University have halted fall semester programs.

When Israel launched an air offensive against Hamas on July 8 in response to rockets fired into Israel and expanded its assault with ground troops 10 days later, officials at UMass Amherst were initially unfazed.

"We agreed that the program should go on even though rockets were flying," said Jack Ahern, vice provost for international programs.

But that soon changed when the Federation Aviation Administration told U.S. airlines July 22 they were temporarily banned from flying into Tel Aviv's airport after a rocket exploded nearby. That lent an air of unpredictability as to whether students could get out if needed.

"With an airport closed for more than 24 hours, we don't want students stuck," said Lisa Sapolis, director of Trinity's Office of Study Away.

UMass Amherst officials decided to cancel the fall semester program based on the State Department advisory, Ahern said.

"To study in a country in conflict can be extremely rewarding," he said. "It was not a decision we take lightly. We try to err on the side of being permissive and allowing students to go where they want."

NYU student Jessica Herrera, a senior, will intern in Washington now that her studies in Israel in the fall have been scuttled. She was disappointed when she learned this month that her classes in Hebrew and politics were canceled, she said, and had not been worried about danger.

"If you know anything about Israel, you know conflict is part of their normal lives, and you go about doing what you have to do," she said.

Many U.S. colleges and universities that operated programs in areas far from the war zone have continued their studies.

Jonathan Sarna, president of the Association for Jewish Studies, questioned whether universities overreacted, noting Israel defended itself against most Hamas rockets with its Iron Dome air defense and its military superiority.

"There are huge gaps between perceptions of safety and reality," said Sarna, also a professor at Brandeis University near Boston, which did not suspend its summer program in Israel.

Schools should act on reality, not perceptions in the media, he said. University administrators "find it easy" to rely on State Department advisories, he said.

Martha K. Risser, an associate professor of classics at Trinity, said she felt distant from the fighting as she led an archaeological dig with about 40 students at Tel Akko in northern Israel this summer.

About 100 miles north of Gaza, where Israeli fighter jets were turning Hamas strongholds into rubble, shops and restaurants in Tel Akko were open, streets were bustling and sailboats dotted the Mediterranean, Risser said.

"The closest experience any of us had," she said, "were news reports."

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Anti-Israel Activity on Campus: ADL Resources for College Students


Over the past century, the Anti-Defamation League has earned a reputation as a credible voice for the protection of the Jewish community. ADL has developed extensive experience monitoring, reporting on, and helping students respond to the anti-Israel movement that is active on many college campuses. We know that - during and after periods of increased tension - anti-Israel forces at American universities may be more likely to engage in divisive programming, organize anti-Israel campaigns, promote boycotts of Israel, and create an atmosphere of tension and hostility for Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus. If you encounter this behavior, we want to make sure that you do not feel isolated or alone.  There are numerous tools at your disposal here in Connecticut and throughout the country to help you feel safe and secure on campus, and to successfully advocate for Israel should you choose to make that a priority in addition to your academic pursuits.

  • Connect on Campus - Both on and off your campus, there are numerous organizations and institutions set up to help you including the Hillel on your campus, the Office of Student Affairs and pro-Israel off-campus organizations such as ADL.
  • Contact ADL - ADL can bring programs and resources to your campus. Find your local ADL office here. Check out our webpage dedicated to Campus Affairs.
  • Become Empowered - ADL's Words to Action interactive education program is expressly tailored to empower college students to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias on campus. Additionally, I-Pitch, a more intensive pro-Israel education program, is offered by certain ADL regional offices. Call your local ADL office if you would like us to bring either of these programs to your campus.
  • Be Aware - ADL's Responding to Bigotry and Intergroup Strife on Campus is a resource that provides information and guidance to university administrators about anti-Semitism and issues facing Jewish students. ADL also does training for campus law enforcements to help them learn how to respond to situations that threaten the security of  the campus community. Your local ADL office can tell you more about these programs.
  • Learn What's Going On Now - Even if you don't have the time to become actively involved as a student leader, ADL resources can help you get the facts fast. Share these links through email or social media if you find them to be helpful.
  • Dig A Little Deeper - We have these additional background resources:
ADL also provides training and support whenever there is inter-group strife. Call your local ADL office if there is a hate crime or hate incident on your campus. We are here to help.

ADL Connecticut Region / (203) 288-6500 /
Connecticut@adl.org / connectticut.adl.org /
facebook.com/ADL.Connecticut

Stereotypes and Similarities at Muslim Jewish Conference

August 12, 2014 11:00 a.m.

By Aziz Sohail

Participants of the Muslim Jewish Conference visit the main synagogue in Vienna, Austria. / All photos copyright by Daniel 
Shacked

As a grassroots organization, the Muslim Jewish Conference has worked for five years to provide a framework for real interaction and dialogue between young Muslims and Jews from all over the world. The six-day meeting currently underway in Vienna, Austria. It provides many of us participants with unique experiences to meet one another on a personal level. Amongst us are participants who have never met Muslims or Jews before but who are eager to learn and to engage. I am grateful to be part of this project. 

There are over 100 people from 38 countries, and it strikes me that so many struggled to get visas. Some were even denied participation. Among them applicants from Sudan and Yemen. I believe their voices need to be heard because each and ever one is an enrichment. Now it's on us, who are lucky to be her and reflect on the need for dialogue.

On the first day of the conference we had to face and discuss stereotypes. Muslims and Jews shared the cliches that others have of them. Many Muslims believe that too often they are profiled as terrorists, backwards and oppressive. Many Jews think they are misunderstood when perceived solemnly loyal to Israel and are considered to be controlling the world. It struck me how similar our problems seem, and I am left pondering over the role of the media in all of this and the steps one can take to counter this stereotyping.

As a co-chair of the arts and culture committee of MJC, I utilize culture and tradition to discuss how they can support social transformation. How can culinary exchange contribute to dialogue? Why do the arts matter in individual expression? What is cultural diplomacy and how can it be best employed? At the Conference, participants have a chance to grapple with these issues and their deeper meaning. It makes me realize that arts and culture are more essential to our lives than we might intuitively think.

It is the little encounters that make this conference so special: a Sudanese Muslim meeting an Israeli Jew who together break challah for Shabbat; the wisdom, optimism and pursuit for peace displayed in a talk by a representative from Combatants for Peace; the space created to discuss many difficult issues.

I went to Brandeis University, where I was lucky to meet Jews that I am very privileged to call my closest friends. At the Conference, I met a Pakistani and an Egyptian who have never met Jews before. This made me reflect back to the time when I was at a similar stage and had no knowledge of Sabbath or the meaning of kosher. At the Conference some Muslims also explain the meaning of prayers to the Jewish participants. To learn so much more about my own religion and the diversity enshrined within it is unique.

Today, I opened The New York Times. I read about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the wars and unrest in Syria, Iraq, Chad, Nigeria, and, so it seems, just about everywhere else. We face depressing times and I worry about the state of the world. But for now, I decide to shut down my laptop and go back to dinner. I still have a couple of hours left to discuss our shared love for travel with one of my new friends. Despite all the misery around the globe I am lucky to know that today we made an effort to change the world for the better, and I am convinced we will prevail.


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