These are difficult days for our brothers and sisters in Israel, and for the entire Hillel family around the world. Rockets fired by Hamas in Gaza are raining down on the Israel, and tensions and fears are high.
As the Israel Defense Forces engage in the second day of Operation Protective Edge (Tzuk Eitan), at the Schusterman International Center, we are in constant communication with our Hillel professionals and friends on the ground in Israel.
The professional leadership of Hillel Israel are proactively handling the changing situation and providing support to our students across the country. Israel’s southern universities—Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva and Sapir Academic College near Sderot—have canceled all classes until Sunday. Some students at those universities have gone home to northern communities; many have been called up to military reserve duty while some remain in the south. Hillel professionals are providing support for all of our students, who take great comfort in the overwhelming support they have been receiving from our colleagues across the globe.
The new cadre of Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel is currently in training in Israel, and will join North American Hillels in the 2014-2015 academic year. Many of them are also being called to military duty. We pray for the safety of everyone being called into service, as well a speedy and successful end to this conflict.
There are also Hillel professionals from around the world currently in Israel, studying at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and the Shalom Hartman Institute. At this time, Hillel International has no Taglit-Birthright Israel buses on the ground, but we are in close contact with Taglit about the many Hillel students who are on buses from other organizers.
The support, solidarity and prayers of the entire Hillel family are with our students and colleagues in Israel, and with the nation of Israel (Am Israel) as they defend themselves. We stand in solidarity with the government and the people of Israel, and pray for the safety of all of Israel’s students, soldiers and citizens.