Israel Update from Hillel at Stanford
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Israel-related Challenges on Campus
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Two Jews, Three Shuls: On Disagreement over Religion in Israel
Anat Hoffman Co-Founder of Women of the Wall and Israeli Feminist Activist
Wed, February 8, 2012, 
12:00pm - 1:30pm
Anat Hoffman is a major leader for social justice in Israel. She is perhaps best known for never giving-up, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She was a founding member of Women of the Wall, whose central mission is to achieve the social and legal recognition of the right for women to wear prayer shawls, pray and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall. In 2002, Anat Hoffman became the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the legal and advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel.


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Jan 31 2012/ 7 Sh'vat 5772

Shalom    :

I write to you fresh upon my return from Israel, where my family celebrated my son's bar mitzvah. This evening, our board of directors will welcome Akiva Tor, Consul General of Israel for the Pacific Northwest Region, for a focused discussion of Israel issues on campus, followed by a reception with student Israel activists and David Olesker of The David Project, who will provide advocacy training.  So Israel is certainly the center of attention here at Hillel at Stanford.


As you are someone who has expressed an interest in Israel activities on campus, I want to send you this quarterly update of Hillel at Stanford's Israel program this academic year.  This report provides an overview of our major Israel efforts, such as supporting Israel travel, teaching advocacy skills, and Israel educational and cultural programs for the entire campus.  We also address the re-launch of a divestment campaign at Stanford and Hillel at Stanford's developing response.


I know that as concerned members of the community you care about what is happening on campus, and that you sometimes get full or partial accounts of what is taking place here at Stanford. I hope this update is helpful, and invite you to let me know if you have any questions at all, today or in the future.


In addition, I would like to invite you to attend an upcoming lecture by an inspiring Israeli advocate and spokesperson, Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center.  Please join me next week, Wednesday February 8th, from 12 - 1pm, at the Kopa Cafe, at the Ziff Center.   


Thank you for your continued interest and support of Hillel at Stanford.




Rabbi Serena Eisenberg

Executive Director

Hillel at Stanford

Bringing Students to Israel
We believe that immersive experiences in Israel have a powerful impact, and so supporting Israel travel is one of our most important goals.  
  • With direct scholarships for student travel.   This year, with thanks to the generosity of Stanford alumna Ann Friedman and her husband, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Hillel at Stanford is pleased to establish the George and Charlotte Shultz Fellowship in Modern Israel Studies.  The Fellowship is designed to support student research on issues relevant to modern Israel and the betterment of Israeli-Arab relations. Each year, Hillel at Stanford will award a $5,000 fellowship to a Stanford student to conduct research pertaining to modern Israeli politics, culture, society, and economy, and/or the betterment of Israeli-Arab relations (including Israeli-Palestinian relations). Application deadline is March 1, 2012, for travel in the summer of 2012. Our review committee includes distinguished faculty: Professor Larry Diamond, Director, Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Relations, Professor Abbas Milani, Director of Iranian Studies, The Honorable Condoleezza Rice, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, and The Honorable Abraham D. Sofaer, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution.
  • Each year, Hillel also provides grants to Me'or, to support a few Stanford students on trips to Israel, and small scholarships to a handful of other students seeking subsidies.   We very much welcome donations to the Israel Travel Scholarship Fund, so that we can provide even more funding for student research and study in Israel. 
  • Advocating for, and supporting other Israel trips on campus. Hillel's support for student Israel travel is particularly critical because Stanford University's International Travel Policy prevents undergraduate students from using university research or fellowship grants to travel to any country where the US Department of State has issued an official Travel Warning including Israel. 

Please visit for more information.


In practical terms, this means that Stanford students who wish to travel to Israel cannot receive any of the hundreds of fellowships offered by various departments, the Haas Center for Public service, or financial aid office to support their trip.  The Executive Director and Israel Shaliach have met with university administration and faculty with ongoing strategies to challenge Stanford's International Travel Policy and support other campus trips, such as the Graduate School of Business Israel trip with 30 MBA students this coming March, and departmental research trips

  • Mentoring students with resources about other travel opportunities. Thanks to the generosity of the Koret Foundation, our Koret MASA Intern this year, Maya Kornberg, works closely with the Israel shaliach to provide information for students who are interested in long term study and work in Israel.  Maya provides information about Israel programs in different fairs we have on campus (study abroad, international career fairs, summer programs), and also meets with individual students.
  • Recruiting year-round for the summer Taglit-Birthright Israel trips.  In the past three years, Hillel at Stanford has sent 47, 40, and last summer, 44 students on Taglit-Birthright Israel, thanks to a generous anonymous donor who has underwritten the cost for a full busload of Stanford students. Koret Birthright intern, Rebecca Krauthamer, works with the Israel fellow to follow up with the students who returned from Birthright in order to maintain their connection to Hillel, Judaism and Israel. She has begun recruitment efforts for our summer 2012 trip, by searching for eligible candidates, publicizing the trip across campus and assisting with registration and the preparation sessions before the trip. Rebecca also coordinates the ASB trip to Israel for the students who have already been to Israel and are interested in visiting again for a more profound experience that involves learning, adventure, and Tikun Olam (volunteer work).
Educational and Cultural Programs

We have continued a robust series of Israel programs on campus, for Jewish students and for the wider campus community. 

Our Israel Fellow on campus is a critical resource for developing programs and creating relationships. While sending students to Israel is the best way to help students develop a deeper understanding of and relationship to Israel, we also bring Israel to our campus through the presence of an Israel Fellow (shaliach) and the many programs he plans, thanks to the support of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.  


Our Israel Fellow this year, Nadav Savaia, in his second year at Stanford, has done an excellent job of connecting with students one-on-one.  Nadav aims to get to know at least 100 students this year - a goal he is well on his way to achieving. We have found that these personal interactions are profoundly impactful; as they help our students gain a deeper connection to and understanding of Israel through in-depth conversations with an Israeli peer.  


Nadav also organizes beginning and advance Hebrew classes, including the "Weekly Hebrew Forum" a lunch series of Israeli professors who speak about their field in Hebrew with native speakers or fluent students. This series is co-organized by Professors from the Jewish Studies Department.

In addition, Hillel at Stanford sponsors a variety of different Israel educational programs and speakers.  Partial highlights since my last update include:

  • Herb Keinon, a veteran Jerusalem Post journalist, spoke on the current prospects for peace and recent diplomatic developments. 
  • The popular Israeli author, Eshkol Nevo, was a prominent guest at the Hebrew Forum, a weekly lunch at Hillel for conversations with Israeli scholars.
  • Israeli TV celebrity, Assi Azar, presented his film, "Mom and Dad- I Have Something to Tell You," with lively discussion and dinner to a large crowd of students.
  • "A Lone Soldier's Perspective on Ethics in the IDF." Nadav Weinberg -invited by the Stanford Israel Alliance.
  • "Terrorism and Counter-terrorism: Challenges to Democracy"  with Professors Mordechai Kremnizer and Yuval Shany of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Faculty of law and the Israel Democracy Institute. Co-sponsored by:  The International Law Society, Stanford Association for Law in the Middle East, & Stanford National Security and the Law Society.
  • UN Recognition of Palestinian Statehood? A New Dawn or Another Debacle?"  David Makovsky and Gaith al Omari- co-sponsored by the Israel on Campus Coalition.   Student leadership dinner, followed by public lecture.
  • "Occupy Tel Aviv" - Two tents to educate about social justice events protests occurring in Israel.  One was a dinner with 13 students, co-sponsored by WZO, and the second was a social justice themed Shabbat -with posters, small groups discussions and dinner at the sukkah.
  • "Stars of David in the Sukkah" - creative workshop with artist Simcha Moyal- a discussion about the symbol, a walk among the new art exhibition at the Ziff Center, dinner and creating their own Star of David.
  • "Israel's Environment - Pollution in the Promised Land?" with Alon Tal- Israeli leading environmentalist, lunchtime lecture in the sukkah 
Israel Advocacy Efforts

Our Israel shaliach and staff work closely with the Stanford Israel Alliance student leadership group to develop advocacy skills and experiences.  Here are some examples of our work in this area.

  • An advocacy training this week with David Olesker, of the David Project.
  • Ongoing training to write op-eds and speak out in response to Students for Palestinian Equal Rights events.
  • Staff works with student groups and individuals when concerns arise in classroom settings or among campus students groups.  For example, this year, there was intense dialogue among JQ (Jewish Queers) and other LGBT groups on campus regarding Israel "pinkwashing."
  • Five students attend the AIPAC San Jose dinner, and several students are registered to attend the AIPAC policy conference in March, in DC.
  • Ongoing consultation with off campus resources, including the San Francisco JCRC, the Israel Campus Coalition, and the Israeli Consulate office.
Israel-related Challenges on Campus
We would also like to let you know that the divestment campaign is heating up again at Stanford.  The group formerly known as SCAI (Students Confronting Apartheid in Israel), now known as the Students for Palestinian Equal Rights (SPER), hosted a meeting last week.  The Stanford Daily student newspaper covered the meeting.


SPER was founded in 2007 and in 2009, the group attempted to put divestment on the table of Stanford's Undergraduate Senate. Efforts by Hillel at Stanford with a student initiative, Invest for Peace, led to SCAI withdrawing its proposed petition. 


See for for information


In April of 2011, SCAI, now SPER, re-launched a campaign for divestment with a petition that to date has about 160 signatures. The petition is directed to the Trustees of Stanford University, but it has yet to be submitted to Stanford University's Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility & Licensing (APIR-L), a committee that advises University Trustees about ethical concerns related to endowment-held securities. 


Hillel at Stanford staff and student leaders have been developing advocacy strategies to counteract this divestment campaign, as well as continue our ongoing pro-active Israel efforts.  Some of the following are:

  • Providing university administrators and APIR-L participants with resources and talking points from several peer universities who have issued statements opposing divestment.
  • Supporting opportunities for students to develop advocacy skills and gather resources to specifically rebut the divestment petition, by speaking at public forums, writing op-eds, and developing a countering petition.
  • Develop an Invest in Israel series (such as the Silicon Wadi high tech conference being held at Berkeley School of Law this week).
  • Advocating lifting the university's ban on Israel study, as have many of our peer institutions.

We will continue to keep you posted about divestment efforts at Stanford, and appreciate your support amidst the challenging environment for students and staff.


As someone who has expressed an interest in Israel activities on Stanford's campus you are receiving this email.  If you no longer wish to receive these quarterly updates, please update your profile using the link below.