Hillel has named veteran Israeli-American journalist Sharon Ashley as the founding director of its Center for Israel Engagement
, the keystone of Hillel's new approach to engaging, educating and advocating for Israel on campus.
"We are pleased that Sharon will join the Hillel team in this important capacity," says Hillel President and CEO Wayne L. Firestone. "At a time when students are faced with so many different and conflicting images of Israel, Sharon provides a well-informed and articulate voice."
"I look forward to helping the CIE foster an understanding of Israel that is both honest and meaningful," says Ashley. "The Center's critical work will enable students to express why Israel is important to their personal identities -- and why it should be and still can be in today's fraught environment."
Ashley, who has served as the editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Report magazine, has great depth of experience in Israel affairs. A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, with a Master's degree in communication from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ashley has spent her entire career in Israel. She served in communications capacities with Melitz Centers for Jewish-Zionist Education, the Office of the President of Israel, and with the Israel Foreign Ministry. She was editorial coordinator for the book Shalom Friend: The Life and Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin, managing editor of Israel Scene magazine and copy editor and writer for Israel's The Nation newspaper.
Ashley served in a number of editorial roles with The Jerusalem Report, Israel's premier English-language biweekly, beginning with its starting issue in September 1990. She was named editor in 2004 and directed overall news and feature coverage, reflecting the magazine's ongoing goal of bridging the informational and cultural gaps between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.
Ashley has kept her finger on the pulse of American Jewry throughout her career. She has gained invaluable insight into the challenge of explaining Israel in all its complexity to a broad and diverse audience, particularly in the United States. Most recently, she was a consulting editor for publications and provided media and strategic consulting for a range of not-for-profit and for-profit clients, with a focus on educational and social activism organizations, helping create stronger connections within the American Jewish community.
For Ashley, Hillel is in her genes: Her parents met at the Hillel at City College of New York.
Hillel is the central address on college campuses for Israel engagement, education and advocacy. Hillel provides the infrastructure for Israel travel, celebrations and fighting anti-Israel efforts. Working closely with the Israel on Campus Coalition, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Birthright Israel NEXT, MASA Israel Journey, AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups, Hillel helps students understand Israel and to defend her whenever necessary.
The core functions of the new Center for Israel Engagement, funded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, are to lead an educational Israel agenda for diverse college students; to develop a cadre of influential, pro-active and knowledgeable staff; to increase student travel to Israel through programs such as Taglit-Birthright Israel, Alternative Break Israel trips, study abroad and more; and to centralize the role of Taglit-Birthright Israel in local Hillels' efforts to help students advance on their Jewish journeys.