for college students by college students
May 24, 2012 / 3 SWAN 5772
VOLUME 3, NO. 2
Hillel at EMU hosts daylong conversation
with students and JCRC expert.
ore than 100 Eastern
students and a
half-dozen faculty members on
attaching names to comments
and asking questions that reflect
genuine curiosity. Of particular
April 11 traded classrooms for
a tent, wandering in and out
note was the provision to listen
"with resilience, hanging in when
all day for "Talk Israel: Join the
something is hard to hear."
not judging other's views, not
Hillel at EMU was one of only
10 campus Hillels around the
"I was impressed students
were really able to differenti-
ate and address emotional and
country to host the event this
factual issues separately," said
spring, sponsored by the Center
for Israel Engagement, part of
Miriam Borenstein, Hillel engage-
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish
Campus Life based in Washington,
With a tent full of students
most of the day, the communica-
D.C. In addition, Hillel at EMU
was awarded co-sponsorship from
tion framework was a success.
Some students remained for
EMU's Student Government. Hillel
at EMU holds about one Israel
several hours, engaging in honest,
respectful and sometimes very
event each year, usually exploring
Israel's food, culture or technol-
personal discussions about Israel
and the greater Middle East.
The purpose of this event,
according to Clara Silver, Hillel at
EMU executive director, "was to
give students the opportunity to
hold conversations about Israel
on their terms in an atmosphere
of civility and respect. We want
every EMU student to feel com-
Hillel at EMU was the first
of the campuses this spring to
host "Talk Israel." With exams
in mid-April, Hillel at EMU had
few choices for dates but dur-
ing Passover, and that included
providing food — a kosher
for Passover lunch and lots of
fortable expressing ideas and feel-
ings about Israel and to see Hillel
Passover treats for guests, some
of whom were tasting Passover
foods for the first time.
at EMU as a place where they are
heard and respected."
Ayelet Shapiro of West
Bloomfield said, "Where else
Throughout the tent were cards
with a "Talk Israel Communication
Agreement" that included provi-
sions like using "I" statements,
at Eastern can you get a kosher
for Passover lunch besides Talk
Allan Gale, associate director
Talk Israel on 89
Allan Gale of the Jewish Community Council
facilitated the discussions.
Pilot ASB program in the Central Galilee
makes the connection.
Sydney Wolf )
MSU Hillel and HCAM students enjoy a view of the Jezreel Valley
in Israel's Central Galilee.
ho would have ever guessed that
five years ago, when my family
hosted Israeli campers from the
Central Galilee partnership region,
that I would have the opportunity to see their home-
In March, I had that opportunity through
Destination Israel: Alternative Spring Break (ASB)
in the Partnership 2Gether region. This pilot ASB
trip is an innovation that came from Michigan State
University Hillel and the Jewish Federation of
Metroplitan Detroit, with assistance from the Max
M. and Majorie S. Fisher Family Foundation, Hillel
Israel and the Michigan-Central Galilee partnership.
Fifteen students participated from MSU Hillel and
the Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan (HCAM:
Alma, Albion and Kalamazoo colleges, and Central
Michigan, Grand Valley State, Northern Michigan,
Michigan Tech and Western Michigan universities).
Led by MSU Hillel Israel Fellow Felix Shoihat,
we traveled to Kibbutz Ganigar, our new home for
seven days. The kibbutz is one of the only real work-
ing kibbutzim left in Israel.
Destination Israel consisted mainly of community
service projects, which were an incredible blessing
and privilege. Some of our projects included feed-
ing the hungry by packaging food products at a local
food bank in Midgal Ha'emek; cheering up sick
children at Ha'emek Medical Center through arts and
crafts projects and by playing, singing and dancing
with them; baking hamantaschen with children who
had family members battling cancer; and visiting
with Holocaust survivors.
My favorite project was harvesting turnips in
fields that had been abandoned by farmers. We har-
vested for hours with the sun beating down on our
backs and Israeli fighter planes flying overhead. It
was strenuous, tiresome work, but knowing it was
being delivered to those in need was enough to keep
The week we arrived in Israel marked the begin-
ning of Purim. The entire state of Israel was in sim-
chah mode. Wherever we went, including Jerusalem,
people were dressed in costume, singing and dancing
through the streets. I will always remember this joy-
ous holiday as a symbol of life, love and happiness.
That week, we also had the opportunity to tour
the first kibbutz in the Central Galilee region. Our
tour guide, Sonya, told us tales of the first pioneers
through song. Her storytelling took us back in time;
we could envision being in Israel with nothing
but swampland and settlers living in burlap tents.
We also visited Roman ruins, olive oil presses and
Nazareth and enjoyed the most unbelievable pan-
oramic view of Haifa.
Destination Israel: Alternative Spring Break in
the Partnership 2Gether Region was a life-changing
Through this incredible trip, we built lifelong
bonds between MSU Hillel, HCAM and the partner-
ship region — our family in Israel.
We left as 15 students from across the state of
Michigan with different expectations and back-
grounds, but we came back united as one group with
a greater love for Israel, newfound friendships and
experiences in our hearts that will last a lifetime. @
Sydney Wolf of West Bloomfield is a freshman at MSU.
May 24 2012