Announcing the Campus Initiative on Israel Engagement

Bay Area Jewish Communal Partnership Seeks to Foster Positive Jewish Identity on College Campuses

San Francisco, CA – The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties is pleased to announce a groundbreaking new initiative, the Campus Initiative on Israel Engagement, in partnership with Hillel International, the Jewish Federation of the East Bay and the Jewish Community Foundation, the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley, all eight Hillels within Northern California, and the Jewish Community Relations Council. The goal is to create meaningful attachment to Israel among students in the face of the de-legitimization movement, and to foster positive Jewish engagement and identity. The cost will be an estimated $1.6 million for three years. $820,000 has been committed since fundraising began in December – a phenomenal amount in a short time period, which is a testament to the excitement and momentum around the project among both partners and funders.
The initiative, part of a larger goal of increasing and deepening engagement among Jews in the Bay Area, aims to provide a counterweight to the increasingly anti-Israel climate on our college campuses. With the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel gaining momentum, Jewish students often find themselves feeling alienated by the rhetoric, tensions and hostility around Israel, and many turn away from the offerings of Jewish life and community on campus. This initiative will direct and grow positive Israel engagement opportunities for students on campus, created through a customized and grassroots approach.
Participating Hillels are: San Francisco HillelHillel at StanfordHillel of Silicon ValleyHillel of Sonoma CountyBerkeley Hillel, Santa Cruz HillelHillel at Davis and Sacramento, and Chico Hillel.
“This important initiative seeks to provide positive, concrete Jewish connections for students on campus,” said Danny Grossman, CEO of the San Francisco-based Federation. “Our goal is to engage and inspire those who might feel that there isn’t a place for them. And I’m thrilled by the wonderful collaboration behind this initiative, involving all three Bay Area federations, Hillel International, and each of our Northern California Hillel communities.”
“This is an exciting and an important opportunity to work together with Hillel and the San Francisco and Silicon Valley Federations to build Jewish community and to bolster the work of Hillel on college campuses across Northern California,” said Rabbi James Brandt, CEO of the Jewish Federation of the East Bay and The Jewish Community Foundation. “Jewish Federation of the East Bay and The Jewish Community Foundation are grateful to Foundation Board member, Sandy Colen for championing this initiative in our community, and to Eric Fingerhut and Danny Grossman for their leadership and for bringing us together.”
“We hope that this initiative provides the support to our Jewish students to develop intersectionality with like-minded students on our college campuses who want to partner for peace in Israel,” said Jyl Jurman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley. “We also hope that this initiative helps the students on all of our Northern California campuses to make them feel safe in their expression of their ideas.”
“Hillel International is thrilled to partner with the Bay Area Jewish federations and the Northern California Hillels on this important initiative,” said Hillel International President and CEO Eric D. Fingerhut. “Together, we are committed to enriching the lives of the more than 10,000 Jewish students across the Bay Area. I am proud of our Northern California Hillel directors, who have demonstrated the importance of collaboration as we strive for excellence on all of our college campuses.”
“We are also especially grateful to Sandy Colen, of the Hillel International Board of Directors, for his tireless efforts in securing financial support from the East Bay Jewish community, and to the San Francisco and Silicon Valley Jewish federations and their donors,” Fingerhut added. “We hope this initiative will serve as a model for future partnerships between Hillel International, our campuses and federations across North America.”

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For immediate release

January 13, 2016


Ilan Kayatsky