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  • Elana Fauth

Hillel for Utah Students embark on the Israel Insight Fellowship

We are following Asher (our Israel Chair) and Zach (our Vice President and former Israel Chair) as they make their way through the Israel Insight Fellowship in Israel, with students from all around the world.

The Israel Insight Fellowship, created by Hillel International, is bringing together 59 participants who are Israel leaders on campus, and exploring what homeland means to all people who call this land home, Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, and Muslims alike.

We are very proud of Asher and Zach for representing Hillel for Utah, and can not wait to hear about all they have learned!

Below is an excerpt of an update the Israel Insight Fellowship team

We’ve arrived! Israel Insight Fellowship Day 1 kicked off yesterday as our group of 59 participants - some arriving from as close as Jerusalem and some as far as Uruguay - converged at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. We jumped right in and immediately began to explore our theme of Home, Homeland, and Belonging. Rabbi Ben Berger kicked us off with some words about our purpose together in this fellowship followed by students joining their first process pod led by one of our team members. Our team of educators, like our participants, is made up of both Americans and Israelis, a critical factor for our multi-vocal approach to Israel education.
We have already been treated to rich, educational experiences in only our first 24 hours on the ground. Yossi Klein Halevi spoke to the group about our theme with characteristically deep insight, clarity of purpose, and a message of complex but deep attachment to this land and its flourishing. He really is an incredible speaker, he spoke so open-heartedly with this group, and it was such an honor to have him to help us launch our program. Our opening day was topped off by a true culinary experience - Chef NIssimmi Naor welcomed us to the Greek Colony where we began with fresh out of the oven focaccia and a powerful conversation about the ways food connects to place, people, and purpose. Then the group collectively cooked a feast which included Manakish (more focaccia topped with freshly picked figs from a tree right in front of them, herbs from the surrounding garden and olive oil pressed just a few miles away), Sayadieh (roasted fish), Charred Eggplant, Lasagna, Potatoes, Babka, Salads, and more. When we tell you our students made all of that together in less than an hour after most of them just stepped off a plane – it was pretty incredible.
Today was also packed as we explored the Old City and our essential question: “What is Home & Homeland to Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem?” In line with our itinerary and after additional verification by our tour provider IGT-Makor with their security partners, we toured each of the quarters of the Old City including a visit to the Temple Mount. It was intense but powerful, bringing our participants directly into foundational conversations about the sense of belonging in Jerusalem. While we explored the Christian and Muslim connection to this place, our story begins and ends with the Jewish connection and we spent ample time in exploration of what that means to us including a visit to the Kotel (Western Wall). Finally, we ended our programming today with processing after meeting with Elena Voltzinger, CEO of Hillels of Russia, who has been displaced from her home in Moscow as she spoke out against the war from a place of moral conscience. She provided us another insight into what “home” means to her and her students under such challenging circumstances.
Tomorrow is another full and intense day as we explore the settlement movement, and those who oppose it, visiting the village of Shilo and surrounding outposts.
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