MARCH 7, 2007 – For Jewish students on college campuses in the United States, dealing with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activism has become a critical issue. This academic year, an innovative program at Israel’s Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem was inaugurated and hopes to make a serious contribution in the effort to prepare high school graduates for the many challenges they will face as Jewish college students who are committed to Israel.
A dozen students were chosen through a selective process to take part in a year-long study program designed to prepare them as leaders on campus in the effort to present Israel in a fair and accurate light.
The program, dubbed the “David Project Fellows Program,” exposes students to top Israeli lecturers from academia, the military and the business world. The syllabus includes an in-depth review of modern Jewish and Israeli history topics as well as topics that are “hot-button” issues on campuses, such as post-colonial thinking, human rights and dealing with the media.
Lecturers include Dr. Mordechai Kedar of the Bar Ilan University’s BESA Institute, Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum of the Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University and David Olesker of the Jerusalem Center for Communications and Advocacy Training. In addition to formal lectures and classroom studies, students will also participate in field trips throughout the country to get a first-hand view of Israeli life.
Funding from Targum Shlishi and the David Project made the creation of the program possible.
“It has always been important for Jewish youth to be thoroughly educated about Israel. In today’s political climate, it is essential,” notes Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi. “At a time when Israel’s existence is being threatened by some, and its right to exist is being questioned by others, our youth must be able to intelligently and knowledgeably address these challenges and threats to Israel.”
Dr. Irwin (Yitzchak) Mansdorf, who conceived of and is directing the program in Israel, explains that, “Dealing with anti-Israel activism on campus has been a major goal for a number of American Jewish organizations. Now there is a specific course of study that will prepare students who have spent a year in Israel with the knowledge and first-hand experiences to actually deal with the problem intelligently. Thanks to the David Project Fellows Program and the efforts of its director, Charles Jacobs, students will arrive at campus already prepared and knowledgeable about the issues, able to serve in leadership roles for the Jewish student body.”
Students were chosen after completing an application and a personal interview. Participating students have shown high academic promise, and their inclusion in the program makes them naturals as future leaders on campus. Following completion of the program, they will be designated “David Project Fellows” and commit to serving as campus liaisons to the David Project’s efforts in Jewish leadership and Israel advocacy on their respective campuses. Among the campuses that the David Project Fellows will serve on in the next academic year are Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, NYU and the University of Pennsylvania.
“The David Project has opened our eyes to many topics, allowing us to explore many areas which will certainly be essential when we represent Israel on our college campuses. From studying Israeli culture to learning about the Islamic world, the David Project is providing us with important foundations in Israel advocacy,” said Laura Chiel, a student in the David Project who will attend the University of Pennsylvania.
Targum Shlishi, an Aryeh and Raquel Rubin Foundation, is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish.