The AVI CHAI Foundation will provide Hillel with a grant to support student leadership development and pro-Israel programs on campus.
Through this grant, Hillel will make available AVI CHAI Israel Advocacy Grants, ranging from $500-$7,500, to 25 student leaders who initiate innovative, pro-active and pro-Israel programs on their campuses. This is the second year Hillel received an AVI CHAI grant for this purpose and a substantial increase over AVI CHAI's support from the previous year.
"AVI CHAI is making a profound impact on college campuses through this grant," explains Wayne Firestone, director of Hillel's Center for Israel Affairs. "Not only is AVI CHAI educating the campuses about Israel, it is helping to create a new generation of Jewish leaders."
The projects are designed by student leaders to match the needs and cultures of their individual campuses. Highlighted below are five of last year's AVI CHAI-supported programs.
The students chosen to receive the AVI CHAI grants were selected through a competitive application process.
- The creation of the Yale Israel Journal at Yale University to cover issues of Israeli culture, history and politics. The Journal is non-partisan and has a distribution of 2,500. Over 20 students and faculty collaborated on this initiative.
- The Bina Initiative: Exploring Israel is a series of Israel discussion forums at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The forum, made up of a select group of faculty, undergraduates and graduates, uses articles, poems, films and guest speakers to promote discussion.
- American University's Students for Israel Leadership Training Initiative promotes hands-on advocacy and creates a pathway for future advocacy activities. The initiative included a weekend retreat as well as weeknight sessions focusing on advocacy and the media, propaganda response, and pro-Israel activism with leading experts in the varying fields. Students have also lobbied on Capitol Hill and engaged in a media campaign with campus-based and local community press.
- The GOT ISRAEL? campaign at the University of California, San Diego helped build a connection between the university and the State of Israel. The campaign focused on society, politics and peoplehood, and dedicated each week to a different theme. It was launched with an Israel fair which included information about Israel's political system, ethnic diversity and the music scene.
- Focus on Israel Initiative brought together the Israeli and American students at Purdue University on themes of pop culture. The students obtained a satellite dish to watch live Israeli television and created a budget for Israeli film screenings and discussions. This program took off and led to the creation of monthly Israeli film screenings highlighting Israel's culture.
"This program has helped us to identify who the student leaders are on the campuses," said Firestone. "We will continue to invest our resources in these students and focus on them as future leaders."
In addition, a select number of students will be brought to Hillel's Charles Schusterman International Student Leaders Conference to help train the over 400 student leaders in Israel programming.
The largest Jewish campus organization in the world, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, is committed to creatively empowering and engaging Jewish students through its network of over 500 campus Foundations, program centers and affiliates. Its long-standing dedication to building Jewish identity, while nurturing intellectual and spiritual growth in a pluralistic community, positions Hillel as a leader in building a stronger Jewish people and stronger Jewish future.