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August 09, 2002 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-08-09

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Missing Experience

following its war in Lebanon, when the first
Palestinian intifada (uprising) broke out.
It was the first time she was living on her own,
and Magnas dove into courses she couldn't find at

her U.S. college — biblical archaeology, Islamic civi-
lization, oil and politics. She made friends with
Jews, Christians, Muslims and Greek Orthodox stu-
dents, with whom she would engage in an "ongoing
dialogue" about Israel, their home countries, their
program on Tuesday — most who might have par-
travel plans.
ticipated in such programs are choosing other
As one of the few modern Orthodox women on
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
options these days.
campus who came from the world of Jewish day
Steven Cohen, a professor at the Melton Centre at
New York City
schools, the experience "made me feel like I was real-
the Hebrew University, calls this a "lost Jewish gen-
hen a Hamas bomb killed seven people
ly in the world," she recalled.
at Hebrew University in Jerusalem last
And as a fluent Hebrew speaker, she studied the
"The people who we lost and the people who will
week, Michelle Richmond sent her for-
Israeli media and discovered a new take on the
not show up in Israel are, frankly, the most idealis-
mer colleagues at MSNBC-TV a mes-
Mideast conflict. "It opened my eyes," she said.
tic, most committed to Israel, most dedicated to
After working in the banking industry, Magnas
Jewish life," Cohen said. "We're-now going to expe-
Richmond, now a senior producer at Court TV,
decided to act on her passions about the media, and
rience a lost Jewish generation that won't have the
had seen a CNN news report describing the campus
is now executive producer of a planned feature film
benefit of a Jewish education with others of their
as disputed territory and told her friends at
"liberal media bias." It is called Amnesia Jam.
kind, and this will be with us for the next 50 years."
MSNBC's "The News With Brian Williams" what
Just a few years after Magnas attended Hebrew
Already two theories about this problem are
she could about the campus setting and its history.
University, the Gulf War broke out. That year,
Cohen said. "One is that we've already hit
In the spring of 1987, Richmond spent part of her
1990-1991, was when Paul Arberman attended
rock-bottom in terms of the numbers of students
junior year at Hebrew University, studying interna-
University. In the years since, Arberman
who have come here knowing full well the risks and
tional relations and Israeli politics. Ever since, she
earned a degree in government from Wesleyan
all the dangers associated with living in Israel," he
said this week, she's done what she can to educate
University, worked for then-Rep. Charles Schumer,
her media colleagues about media balance in cover-
D-N.Y., spent another year in Israel — and made
"The other theory is that the cafeteria bombing is
ing Israel.
aliyah three years ago.
an element of danger that these students hadn't
Like generations of Americans who have spent a
Arberman is due to be ordained in December as a
semester or a year abroad at Hebrew University or at anticipated. Some may leave, some who enrolled
Conservative rabbi after attending the Jewish
may not show up, and those who applied for next
other Israeli universities, Richmond feels the experi-
Theological Seminary-affiliated Schechter Institute
may be dissuaded from coming."
ence changed her life. She has remained friends with
of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and he draws a direct
There are 126 American students at Hebrew
many Hebrew University colleagues, and to this day
line from his time at Hebrew University to today.
University's Rothberg International School. A
"Israel is always at the forefront of my thoughts."
His decision to become a rabbi "was largely due to
decade ago, more than 1,000 participated each year.
For many, Hebrew University marked a turning
my happy year there," when he studied political sci-
That program has been the largest of the Israeli-
point in their lives, providing the inspiration for
ence, debated politics with other students, enjoyed
based university overseas programs.
careers as rabbis, Jewish educators and communal
Israeli dancing, frequented cafes and went on histor-
Regardless of the numbers, every student who
ical and nature tours of Israel.
stays home represents someone who has missed an
But with last week's attack at the Frank Sinatra
"You form a relationship with the land that runs
experience many American Jews considered central
Cafeteria that struck many American Jews particu-
deep," he said. "The national dialogue becomes your
to their lives.
larly hard, even after nearly two years of Palestinian
violence, fewer young American Jews are following
One classmate of Arberman's was Scott Lasens
in Richmond's footsteps.
today is a fellow at the Council on Foreign
Crucial Link
Relations in New York. A graduate of the University
Lisa Magnas, a descendant of Hebrew University
of California Los Angeles, Lasensky not only spent
founder Judah Magnes and president of the greater
Falling Numbers
his junior year on Mt. Scopus, but returned to
New York chapter of the Hebrew University Alumni
All of the Israeli universities overseas programs
Hebrew University in 1998 to pursue his doctorate
report a precipitous drop in enrollment over the past Association, calls her year abroad from 1986-1987
in international relations.
crucial. Magnas had been to Israel as a child with
two years. While some students persevere — 17 stu-
her parents, but found herself in Israel in the years
dents departed for Ben-Gurion University's overseas

Hebrew U. experience provided inspiration for American Jews,
but many are afraid to come.









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