In response to growing demand for Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel on American college campuses, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Hillel International are preparing to deploy their largest cohort to date, 75 Fellows, this fall.
Israel educators have a measureable and lasting impact in the communities they serve. Campuses with an Israel Fellow averaged more than 35 pro-Israel events during the last academic year, compared to just 13 pro-Israel events on campuses without Israel Fellows. This dramatic increase of pro-Israel programming attests to the tireless work of Israel Fellows and their Hillel staff, who sponsored more than 2,000 pro-Israel campus events in the 2014-2015 academic year.
Included in the newest list of Israel Fellow campuses are five schools that participated in last fall’s Miluim initiative, an urgent Israel Fellow alumni delegation deployed to campuses that had never worked with a Fellow. Campuses observed a spike in hostility toward Jewish students in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge and the kidnapping of three Israeli young men. In just two weeks, these alumni introduced sustainable long-term Israel engagement action plans, resulting in increased Israel education funding and increased student attendance at Israel programming. Nearly half of the Miluim campuses immediately began fundraising to staff a full-time Israel Fellow, five of which were able to secure a Fellow for this academic year.
Some students’ first meaningful encounter with Israel is their relationship with an Israel Fellow. Fellows personify Israel on campus, changing Israel from an abstract political entity to a friend’s Jewish homeland. This conceptual shift yields more Israel experiences abroad and increased pro-Israel visibility, which is one of the primary defenses against BDS on campus. Of the 11 BDS and anti-Israel referenda on Israel Fellow campuses last year, seven failed and just three remain active.
The 2014-2015 Jewish Agency for Israel Fellows to Hillel at Hillel Institute in August 2014.