Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life's Center for Israel Affairs is launching a nationwide "Israel 101" Campaign to highlight creative student led initiatives and to proactively educate the campuses about Israel's rich culture, society and contributions. The campaign will be publicly launched at Hillel's Schusterman International Center in the Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Building January 28th as Washington-area university students gather to watch the Israeli election results. The launching date was also chosen to correspond to the 101 days prior to Yom Ha'atzmaut and serve to challenge students to come up with the most creative and impact laden events and activities that will promote Israel's image on campus.
"In the fall semester, Hillel student efforts at U Michigan, U Cal Santa Cruz and George Washington attracted up to 1000 students for proactive events focusing on, respectively, 'Invest in Israel — Invest in Peace,' a campus-wide dialogue on the Middle East and an interfaith dinner hosted by the university president," said Center for Israel Affairs Director Wayne Firestone. "Building on this peer-to-peer success story, this semester we are investing in the ideas and energies of individual students and student groups from around the country. Given the proper resources and motivation, we believe students can be the most effective in telling parts of Israel's story even where the media and some professors are unable or unwilling.
"Israel Election night is an appropriate symbolic and celebratory departure point for this project," said Firestone. On election night, for example, student groups from University of Florida, University of Maryland, Georgetown University, University of Indiana, University of Winnipeg and others will be holding mock elections and online elections to highlight Israel's democratic processes. Hillel has identified a number of campus activists who are already running with high-impact projects on campus. For example, the University of Texas Austin is organizing a dinner for campus leaders to hear about the Israel business scene, a University of Florida student organized a poetry slam and a University of North Carolina Chapel Hill student is organizing a semester-long intensive Israel study group that will include undergraduate, graduate and teaching staff participants.
At the end of the semester, a blue (and white) ribbon panel will award prizes for the events that reach the largest number of participants, have the largest impact on the Jewish community and the largest impact on campus. Although prizes have not been announced, campaign organizers say they will put as much effort into creative awards for outstanding Hillel's around the country, e.g. 101 pints of Ben and Jerry's, a signed photograph from the first Israeli astronaut, etc.
The "101" in "Israel 101" corresponds to a variety of initiatives. From the launch date of January 27, 2003, there are 101 days until Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day. Also, the goal is to have 101-1001 participants for the events taking place as part of the Israel 101 campaign. The 101 is also reminiscent for many of the distinction of entry level courses at many universities. The campaign seeks to educate on topics that are not routinely known via news headlines and thereby introduce the students through Israel 101. In addition, two sets of resources from Hillel's Center for Israel Affairs include 101 Israeli films to be distributed as part of an arrangement with the Jewish Agency for Israel, and "101,000 Pro-Israel Personalities," postcards that are being sent to campuses all over the country with quotes from famous personalities including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Anwar Sadat, and Eleanor Roosevelt.