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May 24, 2012 - Image 87

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-05-24

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for college students by college students

May 24, 2012 / 3 SWAN 5772



Talk Israel



Hillel at EMU hosts daylong conversation
with students and JCRC expert.

Rachel Kaminsky

Building Bonds

jewish@edu staff

ore than 100 Eastern
Michigan University
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-
ment director.

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 )

jewish@edu staff

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
us going.
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


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