Hillel has brought 250 Jewish student leaders to Israel for 10 days of intensive training in the areas of social justice, advocacy and religious pluralism. Hillel is also giving 2,000 students the opportunity to see Israel for the first time through the birthright israel program.
"Hillel firmly believes that Israel is at the heart of Jewish civilization," explains Hillel President Avraham Infeld. "Our missions and birthright Israel program enable the next generation of Jewish leaders to immerse themselves in the land that produced the Jewish people."
The three tracks of the mission are:
Jewish Pluralism and Learning
The Pluralism Mission enables student leaders from the four Jewish denominations to discuss their commonalities and differences in order to foster stronger Jewish communities on campus. Students are living, learning and traveling together in Israel, exploring and then modeling a living pluralistic community, complete with its challenges and strengths. Students are learning Jewish texts that are relevant to these issues at a range of institutions (Machon Pardes, The Conservative Yeshiva, Hebrew Union College and Ta Shma), where different approaches and voices will be heard from these texts.
Weinberg Tzedek Hillel (Social Justice)
Students participating in the Weinberg Tzedek Hillel Mission volunteered in Haifa, Hatzor HaGalilit, Rosh Haayin and among Bedouin in the Negev. They learned about the social issues of each community from local leaders while renovating apartments and a youth club for Ethiopian immigrants, planning activities for Bedouin youth and visiting community centers for seniors and children in crisis.
Hillel-AIPAC Advanced Advocacy Mission
Hillel and AIPAC are providing students with high-level training in Israel's geo-political position in the Middle East in order to equip them to become better pro-Israel advocates on campus and in the community. Intensive curriculum includes: high-level briefings and site visits, Arab-Israeli narrative immersion, and advanced skills development exercises focusing on speaking, debate, media and engagement. Students also met with Shannan Street, the lead singer of the Israeli hip-hop group Hadag Nachash, to discuss a new program being implemented by campus Hillels that uses popular culture to teach students about the diversity of opinions in Israel and examine public discourse in Israeli democracy.
The three tracks also participated in the Second Annual Steinhardt Shabbaton at Kibbutz Ein Gev. The mission participants joined students from Africa, Australia and Europe for a day and night of programs and fun at the Global Israel Showcase, sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel. The program showcased long-term Israel programs and concluded with a musical concert.