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Hillel, Israel on Campus Coalition Announce New Strategic Approach

by Hillel News | Nov 16, 2010 |

Israel Fellows.
Hillel's Jewish Agency for Israel Fellows are integral to Israel engagement, education and advocacy.
(Washington, D.C.) - Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) announced today a new approach and enhanced resources for Israel education, engagement and advocacy on campus. While continuing their eight-year partnership, Hillel will be creating a new Center for Israel Engagement, and the ICC will become an independent advocacy organization.

"We are pleased that this new partnership between Hillel and ICC will bolster our communal efforts in Israel engagement, education and advocacy," states Wayne Firestone, President of Hillel. "Our coordinated approach will allow Hillel and our campus partners to ensure that every Jewish student on campus will have the opportunity to explore and build an enduring relationship with Israel, either in Israel or in a safe, supportive college environment," he adds

With enhanced resources from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation (CLSFF), Hillel and ICC will continue to work closely together to support Israel on campus, with ICC serving as Hillel's primary advocacy partner, bringing expertise, training, resources and a national network to support campus professionals and students around the country. In addition to working with ICC to support campus advocacy efforts, Hillel will renew its focus on engagement and education to meaningfully engage more students with Israel and enhance their understanding and connection to the Jewish state. This new strategy will enable ICC and Hillel to collaborate more effectively to address the increasing challenges to Israel's legitimacy on campus, the growing opportunity presented by thousands of returning Taglit-Birthright alumni and the need to stem the distancing of young Jews from Israel.

Hillel, which serves over 500 campuses and communities worldwide, will create the Center for Israel Engagement to bring together and augment its existing Israel educational and engagement programs and resources. The Center's core functions will be to:

  • Build Israel Centers of Excellence to proactively lead an educational Israel agenda for diverse college students;
  • Offer Accelerate: Israel, a certificate program for Hillel professionals to develop a cadre of influential, pro-active and knowledgeable staff;
  • Increase student travel to Israel through programs such as Taglit-Birthright Israel, Alternative Break Israel trips, study abroad and more; and
  • Centralize the role of Taglit-Birthright Israel in local Hillels' efforts to help students advance on their Jewish journeys.

Leveraging its unique position as the central convener, coordinator and clearinghouse for a broad and diverse array of campus Israel supporters, the ICC will be focused specifically and solely on coordinating and promoting advocacy for Israel in the campus environment. Its core functions will be to:

  • Spearhead efforts to combat delegitimization of Israel on campus and serve as a resource for campuses experiencing anti-Israel activity;
  • Provide a public voice and advocate for the network of Israel campus supporters, as well as offer leadership and coordination for this network;
  • Foster strategic communication about Israel on campus and among the ICC network;
  • Weave and catalyze the network of Israel campus advocates and organizations; and
  • Provide information and resources, including online seminars and increased training opportunities, to the campus pro-Israel community and direct initiatives among that network.

"By combining the ICC's unique network and advocacy expertise with Hillel's robust campus presence, we are creating an across-the-board approach to Israel work," says ICC Executive Director Stephen Kuperberg. "This is a new chapter in the story of Israel on campus and will enable us to address pressing needs in a more strategic and coordinated manner."

Since its inception in 2002, ICC -which has been a partnership between Hillel and the CLSFF - has supported and coordinated campus Israel advocacy through the Grinspoon-MZ Foundation Israel Advocacy Intern program; its Israel Advocacy Grants program; high-profile speaker tours featuring prominent Israel experts such as David Makovsky; national initiatives like "Let Our Students Go!" and the Student Coalition Against a Nuclear Iran; trainings for campus professionals, including the Israel Intensive at Hillel's Engagement Institute; and national symposia and consultations around the most pressing issues affecting Israel on campus.

Hillel provides a central address and infrastructure for pro-Israel education on college campuses, including trips to Israel, celebrations and fighting anti-Israel efforts. Working closely with the ICC, 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 times demand a new approach," says Lisa Eisen, CLSFF's national director. "Our Foundation is pleased to support ICC and Hillel in this exciting new partnership, which will enable us to enhance students' connection to and understanding of Israel while more effectively countering growing efforts to delegitimize Israel on campus," she remarks.

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