IACT Coordinator Dan Kling Shares His Love for Israel with Students



March 26, 2024

IACT (Inspired, Active, Committed, Transformed) professionals are elevating the field of Israel engagement and education on campus. They work to support students on a journey of Jewish learning before, during, and after immersive Israel experiences — sparking a lifelong relationship with Israel for thousands of students. Active on 34 campuses across the United States, IACT is building connected and committed campus communities, and is leading students toward an enduring commitment to Jewish life and Israel.

For Dan Kling, the IACT Coordinator at Maryland Hillel, his work is all about inspiring students to make their own connections with Israel — just like he did.

“On the first night of a Birthright trip [to Israel], we go around and talk about what we’re hoping to see,” he said, describing the most rewarding part of his job. “I say to them that I’m excited for them to fall in love with the place I already love. It’s so invigorating for me.”

That’s when he says students realize they each have a place in a Jewish community, whether in Israel or at home. 

“That’s the energy I never get tired of — the ‘Aha!’ moment,” he said.

Israel has always been part of Dan’s life. Describing himself as “the Israel guy” as a college undergraduate, Dan served as president of his campus Israel Club, and Israel chair of his AEPi chapter. He fell in love with Israel on his first trip there, and wanted to share that love with others. 

After college, Dan spent a few years working at Jewish nonprofits in the D.C. area with young adults and K–8 students, but kept an eye out for an opportunity to work with college students. The job posting for the Maryland Hillel IACT Coordinator was the perfect fit.

Since starting the position, Dan has come to think of himself as a shaliach, or emissary. He’s the face of Israel on campus, the person students seek when they have questions.

“You have to be that bridge, and be a constantly open person,” he said. “It’s a lot of responsibility, but it empowers you to feel that the job is really yours.

One of Dan’s favorite things about his IACT work is that no two days are ever the same. He’s constantly looking for creative, innovative ways to connect with students: interviewing prospective Birthright participants, working with student groups, and making sure students feel comfortable coming to him with questions or concerns. During the Birthright recruitment season, it’s a lot of coffee meetings and schmoozing — “Which I love to do,” he enthused.

But since October 7, the job has taken on new meaning.

“There’s a lot more of the pastoral element to it,” he explained. “The students are fighting an even harder fight than I did when I was on campus, and I went to a school that dealt with a lot of antisemitism at the time.” 

“[Today] it’s often answering those late night texts on how to respond to protests on campus and what it will be like to talk to an administrator about it. It’s up to you to decide how you want to improve the situation, and I’m trusted to decide that,” he added.

Dan sees a role with IACT as the right opportunity for anyone with a passion for Israel/Jewish education, engaging students, and community service.

For those on the fence about applying for the role, Dan says this: “Take every opportunity. I think that lots of people write themselves off — but it’s so important to put yourself out there.”

Especially, he says, if you have a passion for Israel that you’re ready to share

“If you want others to love Israel, too,” he said, “this job is perfect for you.

Interested in becoming an IACT professional? Let us know, and we’ll be in touch!