Jewish Agency for Israel and Hillel International Announce New Leadership for Israel Fellows Program



June 27, 2017

WASHINGTON– June 27, 2017- The Jewish Agency for Israel and Hillel International announced today the appointment of Michelle Rojas-Tal as Director and Yahal Porat as Assistant Director of the prestigious Israel Fellows program, a joint initiative between the two organizations. Rojas-Tal and Porat are replacing Shelley Kedar, who has served as the central Shlicha, or envoy, to Hillel International and Director of The Jewish Agency Israel Fellows.

“The Israel Fellows program is one of our flagship initiatives,” said Natan Sharansky, chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel.It was created with the goal of encouraging Jewish students to create meaningful and lasting ties with Israel and strengthen their Jewish identity. I am excited to welcome this incoming leadership and look forward to seeing them grow the program even further.”

“Israel education and engagement are part of Hillel’s core mission and vision, and Israel Fellows bring the country’s people and society to life every day for Jewish students,” said Eric D. Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International. “I am thrilled to see two great professionals with years of successful experience assume leadership of the program, and proud of our ongoing partnership with The Jewish Agency.”

The Israel Fellows program brings energetic, Israeli young adults to college campuses to help students relate to Israelis, Israel, and the value of Jewish Peoplehood. Israel Fellows support dozens of new Israel advocacy groups each year and provide hundreds of Israel-related programmatic opportunities to more than 120 campuses. They recruit thousands of students for Birthright Israel and other immersive Israel travel programs. Israel Fellows also develop individual relationships with more than 17,000 students each year, helping to ensure generations of pro-Israel students for years to come.

More than 75 Fellows will work at Hillels this fall, educating students about Israel, protecting campuses from anti-Israel activity and associated anti-Semitism, and helping students build pro-Israel coalitions with diverse allies. Each Fellow serves up to three years in North America.

A regular contributor to “The Times of Israel,” Michelle Rojas-Tal is an internationally acclaimed presenter and speaker. She served as the Education Director of Stand with Us International (Jerusalem) for the past 10 years, and was chosen as one of The Jerusalem Post’s six most influential global Jewish leaders and “Women to Watch” in 2013. Rojas-Tal earned a BA in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from Pace University in New York. She will be living in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two daughters.

Yahal Porat is a veteran Senior Director in The Jewish Agency’s Partnership Unit and an expert in the work of cultivating Jewish Peoplehood. He served as the Director of “Beit New York” in Jerusalem and the Director of Strategic Relations and New Initiatives for The Jewish Agency’s Partnership Unit. Prior to that, Porat served as the head Shaliach (envoy) of The Jewish Agency’s Northern UK delegation in Manchester, England for three years. He earned a BA in Political Science and Mass Media Research at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and an MA in Mass Media Research at Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva. Porat has been an active volunteer with “Yerushalmim,” an NGO promoting pluralism in Jerusalem, since 2009. He will be living in Washington D.C. with his wife and three children.

About Hillel International

Founded in 1923, Hillel has been enriching the lives of Jewish students for 90 years. Today, Hillel International is a global organization that welcomes students of all backgrounds and fosters an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. Hillel is dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. As the largest Jewish student organization in the world, Hillel builds connections with emerging adults at more than 550 colleges and universities in 13 countries on five continents, and inspires them to direct their own path. During their formative college years, students are challenged to explore, experience, and create vibrant Jewish lives.

About The Jewish Agency for Israel

Since 1929, The Jewish Agency for Israel has been working to secure a vibrant Jewish future. It was instrumental in founding and building the State of Israel and continues to serve as the main link between the Jewish state and Jewish communities everywhere. This global partnership has enabled it to address the Jewish People’s greatest challenges in every generation. Today, the Jewish Agency connects the global Jewish family, bringing Jews to Israel, and Israel to Jews, by providing meaningful Israel engagement and facilitating Aliyah. It also strives to build a better society in Israel – and beyond – energizing young Israelis and their worldwide peers to rediscover a collective sense of Jewish purpose. The Jewish Agency continues to be the Jewish world’s first responder, prepared to address emergencies in Israel, and to rescue Jews from countries where they are at risk.

Media Contacts

Matthew E. Berger, Hillel International Senior Adviser for Strategic Communications


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Lara Bashkoff, The Jewish Agency for Israel Chief Marketing Officer


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