November 29, 2011
By Katie Burke
University of Michigan Hillel is looking to add a new member to the international community on campus next year: a fellow from Israel.
But Hillel has to secure the funding to sponsor the fellow first. Hillel is awaiting the decision of the Jewish Federation of Ann Arbor on a $10,000 grant proposal. The fellow would work for one year on campus and in the greater Ann Arbor area and would come from the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Campus Israel Fellows program.
The Jewish Federation will finance two grant proposals as part of its 2012 Impact Fund, which was started this year to help finance local projects. Ann Arbor residents have until today to vote for two of 23 proposal submissions.
Davey Rosen, Hillel’s assistant director, wrote in an e-mail interview that the ideal candidate would have experience with both Israeli and American culture.
“We are looking for an educator who can facilitate informal … learning opportunities that will strengthen students’ relationship with Israel and enhance their overall college experience,” Rosen wrote.
According to Hillel’s proposal, 6,000 University students identify as Jewish. In 2011, 326 University students participated in Taglit-Birthright Israel — a program that allows Jewish students to travel to Israel for 10 days free of charge. This number was the most of any participating institution.
Because many University students participate in Taglit-Birthright Israel, having an Israeli professional on campus to guide students before and after participating in the trip would improve the program, Rosen wrote.
“We have a responsibility to follow up on (Taglit-Birthright Israel students’) experiences in a deeply meaningful way, and we think a powerful way to do that is through relationships,” Rosen wrote.
The fellow would also devote 20 percent of his or her time to work with the greater Ann Arbor Jewish population, according to Rosen.
LSA senior Naomi Scheinerman, who serves as Israel chair on Hillel’s programming board, said the fellow would be a “shaliah” — which means messenger in Hebrew — for students.
“There are a bunch of Israelis on campus, but having a professional Israeli perspective on campus adds to the diversity and multiculturalism (of the University),” Scheinerman said.
She added that the fellow would also bring valuable political experience to share with members of the campus community.
“Having someone who is Israeli here will prove beneficial to have an informed perspective (on the Arab-Israeli conflict),” Scheinerman said. “From a political perspective, it’s important to hear from firsthand experience.”