Participants in the Derech haYisraelit
initiative visit the Beit Guvrin caves.
Aspiring young filmmakers given a showcase for their work. Three passionate immigrant communities sharing their cultures. Two disparate cultures united by dance. These are just a few of the achievements of Hebrew University Hillel's Center for Student Initiatives.
Launched in 2007, the Center for Student Initiatives enables students and young adults in Jerusalem to develop innovative programs that fulfill their creative vision, gain exposure for their interests, and develop their leadership potential.
"The Center is based on the core pillars of Hillel Israel programming: leadership and student initiatives," said Hillel Israel Director General Rabbi Yossie Goldman. "While helping students develop programs, we're also training them as leaders."
The Center selects about 16 projects a year from dozens of applications, and winning projects receive funding, training, and supervision. The Center has facilitated projects ranging from a coffee shop dialogue between Arabs and Jews to relief work with Darfur refugees, all of them focused on giving students an opportunity to explore what is uniquely meaningful to them.
This Chanukah, for example, the Center partnered with the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, to devote one day of the festival to young artists and raising the profile of young filmmakers in Jerusalem.
"Through Hillel's Center for Student Initiatives, young artists contributed three films, a photo exhibit about Darfur refugees, and a performance by a student musical combo," said Hebrew University Hillel Director Heli Tabibi. "How else could young artists get such great exposure?"
Another of this year's initiatives, haDerech haYisraelit
(The Israeli Path), brings together 40 veteran Israelis and 40 new immigrants. "The project has three coordinators from entirely different backgrounds: one from the FSU, one Ashkenazi, and one Yemenite," said Hebrew University Hillel's Director of Student Initiatives Idan Binyamini. "They meet every other week, alternating discussion sessions with walking tours, so they can share the beauty and the strengths of their different traditions."
Miriam Sharabi, a Hebrew University student and one of the initiators of haDerech haYisraelit
, is grateful to the Center for this opportunity. "Without Hillel's help, haDerech haYisraelit never would have gotten off the ground."
"The Hillel Center for Student Initiatives is unique in that it sees program implementation as part of the training process," said Tabibi. "We invest time, effort, and funds to develop leadership skills in each student and to help them turn their ideas into realities."
"Last year a student proposed an initiative that became Mifgashim mehaBeten
- Belly Encounters, in which Jewish and Arab women held a dialogue about their different cultures while learning Eastern dance. Each session had a different discussion topic. What better way to learn about one another, than to open a conversation while doing something fun?"
"If you have a dream," said Goldman, "Bring it to Hillel and we'll help make it a reality."