September 27, 2012 – New York, New York – The Jewish Agency for Israel has bolstered the ranks of its campus emissaries for the 2012-2013 academic year. There are now 56 Israel Fellows on 70 North American campuses (including five in Canada), up from 50 Fellows last year. Trained and recruited by The Jewish Agency, these fellows help students connect to the Jewish State and respond to anti-Israel activity.
On campus, the Fellows function as Hillel staffers. They inspire individual students to connect to Israel and recruit them to participate in Israel experiences, including Birthright Israel and many longer-term programs, including Masa Israel Journey. Once students return from Israel, fellows keeps them engaged. And they empower the students to organize and lead Israel-based programming on campus.
Launched in 2003, during the aftermath of the second intifada, this strategic partnership between the two organizations has created a multi-faceted Israel engagement campaign through the entire Hillel system.
Typically, Israel Fellows are young professionals in their late 20s, and highly-skilled at presenting modern Israel through the lens of its socially progressive values and its accomplishments in technology, life sciences and the arts.
In the past year, Israel Fellows have empowered students to organize against calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel (BDS); they have mobilized student-led responses to campus visits by hostile speakers; and they have successfully advocated for the reinstatement of Israeli universities on rosters of approved study abroad options. The Fellows also led volunteer delegations to the developing world and played a key leadership role in Talk Israel, a nationwide initiative where centrally-located tents popped up on dozens of campuses. Inside these tents, Jewish students – as well as non-Jews – hosted programs that showcased Israel’s contemporary culture.
Campuses where students are now working with Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel for the first time include: University of Michigan, University of Virginia, University of Connecticut, University of Pittsburgh, University of Cincinnati, Johns Hopkins, Yale, Washington University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Virginia Tech and Queens University of Canada.