We're excited to feature a guest post from The Israel on Campus Coalition about their newest initiative: Ask Herzl. The Israel on Campus Coalition works with students and professionals around the country to offer training and leadership opportunities, and develop initiatives and resources that improve the perception of Israel on campus in a way that fits each unique campus environment.
On campus, in webinars or at conferences, we ask Hillel students and professionals, "What can we do to help you support Israel on campus?" We've heard some responses repeatedly: "We need help finding good Israel programs," "We need help with Birthright follow up," "We need help starting an Israel club."
The Israel on Campus Coalition ultimately decided to build Ask Herzl because of you. We took your requests to heart, which led to Ask Herzl: a place to find ready-to-run programs, how-to guides to help tackle challenges on campus, and speaker listings to find the right fit for your event.
My colleague Josh Kahn, who works as the Jewish Agency Israel Fellow at the University of Florida
, serves on the Ask Herzl advisory committee, a group of students, campus professionals and professionals from national organizations that joined together to develop a resource that met the needs of the pro-Israel community. At the ICC Regional Training for the Southeast in October 2011, Josh regretted that there was no central location to store institutional knowledge for the campus Israel community. Now, only weeks before the website is scheduled to launch, he is excited that an age-old challenge is being addressed. "When a student or professional leaves their role in Israel activism on campus, oftentimes their ideas and strategies go with them, and the successors are left to fill in the gaps. Ask Herzl will solve this problem by being a one-stop resource for Israel related activities."
Hillel professionals and students were involved from the very beginning to help build a website that addressed the real challenges of advocating for Israel on campus. Audrey Bloomberg, Assistant Director at Penn State Hillel
who, like Josh, serves on the advisory committee, believes one of the primary challenges is actually that there are so many different resources.
"With so many opportunities that come to our inboxes each year about Israel programming and resources, I can't wait to have all of that information in one easy location instead of searching through old files and emails!"
Audrey is spot on; many programs will be linked to how-to guides to help you develop strategic initiatives that address specific goals and challenges on your campus.
Ask Herzl will provide both resources and an interactive space to users who are looking to share ideas, collaborate, and build upon successes of the past. As the "Facebook Generation" knows, great power and creativity can come from the ideas of many; a connected site like Ask Herzl is something that they will certainly appreciate.
I recently spoke with another advisory committee member, Tzvi Raviv, Director of the Rutgers Hillel Center for Israel Engagement, about the project. He believes that "Ask Herzl has the potential to be a game-changer in Israel advocacy on campus by connecting the nodes of the pro-Israel network; it is crucial that we hold ourselves as Hillel professionals accountable for posting quality programming and strategies." Tzvi added, "I especially appreciate Ask Herzl's new grant-giving system," referring to the $1,000's in grants and awards
available to those who submit resources to Ask Herzl.
It's gratifying to know that one of the most, if not the
most, significant Ask Herzl audiences (you the Hillel crowd!) is so passionate about the project. With your help, Ask Herzl can ensure that the pro-Israel community's collective knowledge, ideas, and solutions aren't contained in a vacuum. With Ask Herzl, creativity and strategy can go viral, and perhaps most important of all, no voice for Israel needs to feel like they are alone.
The prophet Isaiah had a vision for the ingathering of the people of Israel from the four corners of the earth. Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, helped make that dream a reality. Ask Herzl will hasten the collection of quality Israel programming and resources from exile to dusty filing cabinets, desktop computers, CDs, and even the occasional floppy disk.
If you'd like to return resources from exile yourself, submit programs to Ask Herzl, and be eligible for grants, awards and prizes
. Learn more about Ask Herzl, including how to submit resources today, receive grants and awards available for exemplary submissions, or register to get a sneak peek at AskHerzl.com before launch.