February 2017

Dear Friend,

This has been a busy past few months for the Columbia/Barnard Hillel, from the beautiful Mega Shabbat in memory of Myra H. Kraft z”l that took place in Lerner Hall where over 550 students gathered together for one, communal Friday night meal, to musical performances by student groups, and Super Bowl parties with hundreds of students in attendance.  Campus life at the Kraft Center has been bustling here, and Talia Rubin, a student leader on Hillel’s Student Executive Board, shares a glimpse of what that looks like below.

First, in this February edition of Columbia/Barnard Hillel’s community e-newsletter, we begin with our alumni, students, and staff who focus on Jewish life and Israel – a key component of our mission and focus.  You can look forward to the following:

We look forward to continuing to keep you updated on Columbia/Barnard Hillel and campus life.

Warm regards,
Jocy London CC’06
Director of Development

Alumni Leadership

The Kraft Center has long been a place where students engage with Israel in political, social, religious, and cultural avenues. Our programming attracts a diverse audience with a wide array of perspectives on all things Israel, and we have immense pride in the events our students produce while on campus.

It’s therefore unsurprising—but worth celebrating— the Israel-related careers that our alumni have embarked upon since leaving Columbia.

With this in mind, this newsletter edition will profile just a few of the many students who have made Israel part of their professional lives since graduating.

Cory Doliner (JTS/GS’12) works as a development officer at Israel & Co, writing grant proposals, managing a donor base, and working with the CEO on all aspects of donor cultivation.

He told us that “Israel & Co. recruits student and faculty leaders to lead week-long iTreks (trips to Israel). Israel & Co. supports iTrek leaders through all stages of trip planning, providing expert mentorship, tools, resources, and unique content to ensure a powerful Israel experience. Participants return to their personal, professional, and civic lives with a more informed understanding of and appreciation for the country and its people; and, most importantly, they are eager to share it..”

Cory credits his involvement in Hillel’s Israel scene as the inspiration for his current career. “Working with such passionate and committed people to give Israel better exposure on campus (and broadly to foster meaningful Jewish community) was very formative,” he explained.


Tova Katz
(CC’06) is a portfolio manager at One8 Foundation. The mission of the organization, she told us, “is to accelerate and bolster the success of nonprofit organizations with the highest potential to achieve breakthrough results on some of the most pressing problems facing the United States and the Jewish People. We use a venture philanthropy approach– identifying highly promising grantees to support with meaningful funding and deep strategic engagement.”

Tova’s portfolio includes Israel engagement, education, and advocacy.


Rebecca Glanzer (CC’15) is currently serving in the Israeli Air Force as a combat soldier in the air defense unit—the unit that operates Iron Dome. She told us “my course operates patriot, a weapons system that intercepts war planes and long range missiles.”

Rebecca’s four years at Columbia were spent defending Israel on a different battlefield, and she told us she still proudly sports her Aryeh and Columbia apparel on her morning runs.

Do you have a story to share or know of others making strides in anything and all things Israel? If so, please contact us at development@hillel.columbia.edu to share your story.  We love hearing about and from our alumni!

This summer, the Columbia/Barnard Hillel welcomed our first Director of Israel Engagement, Hela Lahar. Hela, comes to us from Israel, where she was the Director of the Jewish Peoplehood Education Center at the Israeli Movement for Progressive and Reform Judaism.  Hela received her Masters in Diplomacy and Security studies at Tel Aviv University, and previously was a Shlicha at the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia.  

I believe that Israel is a central part of our Jewish identity and, as such, very integral to students on campus. Hence, it is important to have a senior level professional who is well equipped to deal with the many facets and challenges that Israel education presents, especially so with such intellectual and inquisitive students as we have at Columbia/Barnard.

The focus of the Columbia/Barnard Hillel’s Israel department this year is on Israel education and immersive experience.  We still focus heavily on diversified pro-Israel advocacy programming with speakers such as Daniel Gordis, Senior Vice President and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College, Bar Gissin, the co-chairwoman of Young Meretz, Almog Boker, a senior reporter for channel 10 news, covering the South of Israel, and Rabbi Noa Sattath, the director if the Israeli Reform Action Center, to talk about social justice in Israel.

Hela Lahar

Director of Israel Engagement

Birthright

“…During Birthright, Columbia/Barnard Hillel gave me a nurturing and supportive space to develop my Jewish identity with the help of others who were exploring their own Jewish experiences,” Sarah, CC '19

“My time in Israel was one of my most memorable and enriching adventures” Zoe, BC '18

“During this trip I had a ton of fun, but I also got to see the Israel that I love through a new lens” Laura, BC '20

Meet Jaimie Krass

Jaimie has been with the Columbia/Barnard Hillel since 2015.  She “eats, sleeps, and breathes immersive Israel experiences” as Columbia/Barnard Hillel’s IACT Coordinator, responsible for everything related to Birthright Israel.  She is beloved by her colleagues, and especially by her student leaders and participants, who know that if there was one message Jaimie could imprint on the hearts of every student she meets, it would be that they are enough and have nothing to prove—only to share.

Why does Jaimie love leading Birthright trips?

“I never embarked on a Taglit-Birthright Israel experience as a participant because I felt I was not ‘Jewish enough,’ and also worried about the possible ‘agenda’ of the trip.  Now, having led 5 trips from this campus with more than 150 Columbia/Barnard students, there is little else in the world that makes me happier than working with students to handcraft nuanced, empowering, and inclusive Taglit-Birthright Israel experiences.  Students visit and explore their unique identities through this immersive trip, while also encountering inspiring and challenging elements of Israeli society.”

Jaimie approaches each trip with the enthusiastic attitude of: “Let’s dive into the tough questions together and wrestle with what we find during these action-packed ten days!”

Jaimie holds a BA in political science and Jewish studies from the University of Florida.  While pursuing her degree, Jaimie studied for a semester in Israel at the University of Haifa, volunteering as an English instructor for Ethiopian-Israeli women and children in her spare time.  Before joining the Kraft Center, Jaimie worked at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA as the Hillel Programs and Engagement Manager.  She is a native of Chicago and when she isn’t planning Birthright Trips or engaging with Columbia/Barnard Hillel students, she enjoys poetry slams, hiking, and volunteering as a crisis counselor for LGBTQ youth.

Education

The Hillel has grown its Israel education with programs such as Israel 101 – a student-led program focused on educating incoming students on the history and geo-politics of Israel, as a means to welcome them into the Israel-conversation on campus.

Additionally, there has been a focus on immersive educational experiences:

  • The Columbia/Barnard Hillel will participate in Ivies for Israel, a pro-Israel training educational conference, along with 10 new student leaders from each ivy university that will take place at Yale. At the conference training will include learning more about Israel and the effective tools to use within the campus community when educating about Israel.
  • This summer, the Student Leadership Seminar will begin. The Seminar, which will take place in Israel, will be a 10-day long immersive educational seminar, with the goal of educating incoming student leadership about the many facets of Israeli society, culture, politics, and more.
  • This past winter break, students and leaders spent a week at the Hartman institute in Jerusalem over winter break as a part of an immersive experience for our J&Y (Judaism and You educational series) iEngage Program. We have 21 students participating in iEngage, a year-long course, taught by Hartman Institute faculty and Hillel professionals, educating students on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a Jewish lens.
The critical intellectualism that I have encountered at the Hartman Institute has…pushed me to reevaluate my understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the learning of Jewish texts through particular lenses, and through hearing from members of different spheres of Israeli and Palestinian society. One of my most significant takeaways…has been identifying particular roadblocks to mutual understanding among the different groups involved in the conflict…I have found this type of open learning environment to be rare in my past discussions surrounding Israel and the conflict, but it is essential to honest and fruitful learning. Daphne Logan, GS/JTS '19

My week at the Hartman Institute became about digging into and deepening my relationship with Israel through Jewish texts. Ironically, the intellectual approach gave me new tools to consider my relationship with Israel beyond a political or social justice fascination with the conflict and, rather, as an emotional one. I spent the week thinking about how Jews can navigate finally having control of a place we’ve been writing about and wishing for but idealizing for nearly two thousand years through psalms. Rebekah Dempsey, BC’17

Student Groups

Student-led Israel Groups are also a key piece of the Israel puzzle.

See below highlights from each of the groups, as shared by our students:

Entrepreneurship

TAMID Group

Laura Nassim BC’19

TAMID Group is an organization that connects business and tech-minded students to the Israeli economy. We do this in many ways, ranging from having students consult for Israeli startups to sending them on an all-expense-paid summer fellowship to intern in Israel.

This semester, we almost tripled our fellowship acceptance, from five fellows last year to fourteen this year. We now have one of the highest acceptance rates of any international TAMID chapter due to our outstanding new Gimmel Class and long-standing dedicated members.

Much of last semester was spent recruiting and training our exceptional new Gimmel Class. They were selected after a rigorous application and interview process, and participated in a new Startup Education program. In groups, they created their own simulated startups, and ultimately presented to a representative from a real venture capital firm in our first annual Startup Pitch Competition.

We had a few exclusive TAMID events as well as some public ones. Our year began with a conversation about Cyber Security and the Israeli Economy with Oren Toledano, CEO of Israel Tech Treks that was advertised to the public. We also had a private sit-down with Yaakov Ringler, Senior Vice President of Morgan Stanley. We co-sponsored an event with China Israel Connection (CIC), where both TAMID and CIC members came together to listen to Gal Dymant, the Chairman of Poalim Asia Direct speak about breaking into the China market.

Our board is now in the process of planning two National TAMID events with Lehigh, NYU, YU, and Queens College. On February 19, we will be having our Startup Career Fair, and later this semester we will host TAMID Tank, a national startup competition which, already last year, attracted over 300 attendees.

TAMID Group has grown so much over the past semester and we’re looking forward to seeing how it continues!

Advocacy

Aryeh

Dore Feith, Aryeh President, CC’18
Leeza Hirt, Aryeh Director of Communications, CC’18
Fall 2016 was a success for Aryeh: Columbia Students Association for Israel. We experienced one of our busiest semesters yet, with large-scale events aimed at the broader campus community as well as smaller programming for a more focused audience.

  • We hosted dinners with experts on Israeli history and politics, such as Columbia alumni David Makovsky and Daniel Gordis
  • We heard from the director of Save A Child’s Heart, an Israeli NGO that provides life-saving cardiac procedures to children from around the globe.
  • We hosted an Israeli journalist who reports from the border with Gaza, and a panel discussion with American commentators Liel Liebovitz and Todd Gitlin in the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election.
  • The highlight of our semester was undoubtedly our second Annual Israel Week. Each of our daily displays on College Walk focused on a different aspect of Israeli society: coexistence, arts and culture, and biotechnology. Dozens of students volunteered to man the presentation, and hundreds of Columbia students walked by––and often stopped by–– over the course of the week.

Albert Mishan, CC’19
On Tuesday January 31, Aryeh sent a delegation of Columbia/Barnard students to Washington, D.C. to lobby members of Congress for strict enforcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran nuclear deal), support for bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and aid to Israel, including crucial joint missile defense programs. Afterwards, the group met with Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council of Foreign Relations, to discuss developments in the region and the possible approach of the new administration to the volatile situation in the Middle East. Finally, the delegation finished off the Lobby Mission with a delicious dinner.

J Street CU

Daniel Mackler GS/JTS ‘19

J Street CU is gearing up to advocate more than ever for Israel’s Jewish and democratic future. In late January, we held an event where we strategized for a semester of campus advocacy and wrote letters asking our senators to continue strong support for a two-state solution. Later on in the semester we look forward to hosting events and speakers on Israel, and going as a group to the national conference in D.C.

Other recent events:

  • Co-hosted an evening with Shalhevet, the Columbia/Barnard Hillel’s Israeli dance troupe, for a fun, thought-provoking night of dance and discussion, where students learned Israeli dances, while exploring their political and cultural associations
  • Co-hosted a campus-wide rally for democracy and compassion with the Columbia University Democrats
  • Members joined together in Washington at the Women’s March
  • Spoke out against the immigration ban

Think Israel

Brett Krasner GS/JTS ’17 or Susannah Cohen CC’17

This semester, ThinkIsrael intends on hosting large and small scale discussions and events focusing on Jewish and Zionist identity, whether having to do with the current political climate, campus atmosphere, Middle Eastern turmoil, etc. Keep an eye out for debates, discussions, and everything in between that will keep you thinking on your feet, and will include nuanced discussions.

While our Israel programming has most certainly been at full steam ahead, our religious and community programming has taken off this semester as well. We can’t wait to see and experience what’s in store, from MEGA SHABBAT to seeing what the student Executive Board has planned for us next!

Mega Shabbat

On Friday, February 3rd Columbia/Barnard Hillel hosted the annual MEGA SHABBAT dinner, in memory of Myra H. Kraft z”l. Columbia’s Lerner Hall was packed with over 550 Columbia/Barnard students gathered together to socialize, eat, and celebrate Shabbat as a community, all free of charge to our students. It was our largest and most mega MEGA SHABBAT yet!

Talia Rubin, CC’18

Treasurer on the Student Executive Board

Talia Rubin (CC ’18) is a junior studying East Asian Languages and Cultures and Human Rights and she serves as Treasurer on the Hillel Student Executive Board. She enjoys swing dancing, sewing and sitting with friends on the Columbia lawns.

Columbia/Barnard Hillel hit the ground running upon returning from Winter Break, running numerous new and returning initiatives and programs. Our four religious communities started off the semester with invigorated services, opening events, and learning opportunities. TheLounge at Kraft, our Wednesday night space for live music and relaxation, began the semester with a great opening event as well, and our Interfaith group and Jewish Activism Collective are working on exciting new programming with other religious communities on campus.

Our performing arts groups are working on new projects – 6Days Theater is hosting auditions for a new play, Pizmon continues to travel, performing for Jewish communities across the country, and Shalhevet and Smadar are looking forward to performances on and off campus later in the semester. Additionally, TAMID Group at Columbia is looking forward to bringing together TAMID Chapters from around New York City for a large entrepreneurial event later this semester.

Hillel’s Student Executive Board hosted a bunch of great events this semester – from MEGA Shabbat to Pink Shabbat, a weekend partnership with Sharsheret including a cake-decorating competition, a raffle and a Shabbat dinner to raise awareness for breast cancer. We also held an amazing Superbowl Party.  We look forward to hosting an Oscars party, and an organized “Night at the Lions”, a trip to a Columbia basketball game.

In summary, it’s going to be a busy semester and we’re so excited to support our groups in their amazing work! 

Cultural and Community-Wide Events

We are planning to host the NY premier of the movie “Operation Wedding”, focused on the plight of Russian Jewry in the 1970s, a charge that Columbia students at the time led. This event is open to all community members and we look forward to seeing you all there. The event will take place Sunday, February 26th from 2-5pm.

Doors open at 2:00, and program starts at 2:20. Tickets: Free of Charge for CUID holders, $10 in advance for non-CUID holders. Limited spots available. Purchase tickets here: https://columbiabarnardhillel.org/tickets-operation-wedding-premiere/