23 Sep An Israel Fellow Serves Again
An Israel Fellow Serves Again
When Doris finished serving as a Jewish Agency Campus Israel Fellow at the University of Virginia in May 2022, she had no idea she’d be back in the States acting as an Israel Fellow again so soon.
All her life, Doris strongly connected with the idea of teaching others about Israel. After growing up in Eilat, she completed a BA in Israel studies from Kinneret College through a special program that also allowed her to earn her tour guide license at the same time. Today, she works as a tour guide professionally and was also a tour guide in the army during her Israel Defense Forces (IDF) service.
“Living in Israel, I was never really exposed to other kinds of Jews and Judaism, but through being a tour guide, I began to discover that they exist. And that made me want to live abroad to experience those other types of Judaism for myself,” recounted Doris. “Shlichut (emissary service) was perfect because I’d get the opportunity to do that and connect with other Jews while working in my field and teaching about Israel.”
Right after Doris finished college, she started the process of becoming a Jewish Agency Shlichah (Israeli emissary). She was excited to learn she’d been chosen for the Campus Israel Fellows program. Israel Fellows are Israeli young adults who are post-IDF and university who are brought to North American college campuses every year by The Jewish Agency, in partnership with Hillel. These Fellows help substitute education for ignorance when it comes to student opinions about Israel, creating safe spaces for tolerance and diversity, and give students a chance to develop lasting connections with an Israeli.
Doris arrived at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville in the fall of 2020 and was there for two years, ending her service in May 2022. She got to know the Jewish and college cultures, act as a resource for Jewish and Israel-related topics and connect with students, even throughout COVID when protocols were more strict.
At that point, Doris thought she had finished her time as an Israel Fellow. But in August, The Jewish Agency reached out to her with an opportunity to be a Shlichah B’Miluim, an emissary on reserve duty. Since the Israel Fellow serving the University of Cincinnati in Ohio for 2022-23 would not arrive in time to be on campus for the first week of school and all the welcome events, Doris was asked if she would fill in.
“And that’s how I found myself at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio for two weeks. And it was perfect timing because I was already missing America and the Israel Fellow role,” said Doris. “I had a wonderful time and helped with a lot of events for the beginning of the year and began doing recruitment for Birthright trips at the college.”
“We were so lucky to have Doris for two weeks and I wish we’d had her longer! I was so impressed with Doris; she showed up right from the airport on the day we had a welcome-back lunch for students and an adult board retreat and she just jumped right in and hit the ground running,” shared Rachel Kaplan, who has been the Cincinnati Hillel Director for four years. “She took advantage of every opportunity and was so involved, we didn’t want to say goodbye.”
The University of Cincinnati, which has about 800-1,000 Jewish students on campus, has been part of the Campus Israel Fellow program for eight years; this was the first time they had a two-week “reserve duty” Israeli emissary come.
“I would definitely do this sort of thing again in the future,” stated Doris. “Coming to a college as short-term ‘reserve duty’ Israel Fellow after I’ve had a full-term Israel Fellow experience means I knew exactly what to do and could have a big impact, even in just a few weeks.”