Year Courses Battle in the Media

from The Jewish Week:

Battle of the Israel Programs

Keith Berman, who resigned suddenly from his post as director of Hadassah’s Young Judaea Year Course at the end of December, is in the hot seat for planning another long-term Israel program while still on Hadassah’s payroll.

The Feb. 1 launch of Aardvark Israel, a nine-month program that will take place in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and offers such enticing add-ons as a trek on the Israel Trail, a Kenyan safari and skiing in Bulgaria, shocked professionals involved in Israel programming.

In interviews with the Israeli media and in heated exchanges on the Internet, Berman’s detractors assert that his actions were unethical and possibly illegal.

… Berman’s supporters, in contrast, insist that a high-quality program will bring more Jewish kids to Israel, and that unless his Year Course contract included a non-competition clause, he had every right to pursue other interests.

… “I was disappointed with the direction things were going. I became disillusioned,” Berman said, declining to elaborate. “My first job for Young Judaea was in 1984, and I’ve been working almost straight for them ever since. No one has done more for Young Judaea than I have. I still consider myself a Young Judaean and plan to go to my 25th reunion in June.”

Berman said that he had been “planning to retire” from Young Judaea when a group of private investors approached him about starting a new program.

“I gave my notice on Dec. 31 but [Young Judaea] wanted me to stay a month, which is normal in Israel. I was ready to leave that day, but I helped the people who were taking over for me.”

[You can read Michelle Chabin’s complete article in The Jewish Week.]