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American professors prepare for bridge-building mission to Israel

Some 32 participants are gearing up to take part in an academic exchange exploring Israel’s history, government, culture and economy.

Faculty Fellowship participants visit the  overlook Jerusalem. Photo by Vivian Grossman.
Faculty Fellowship participants visit the overlook Jerusalem. Photo by Vivian Grossman.

Following its MoU signing with the University of Arizona and Israel’s Arava region, Jewish National Fund-USA continues to boost collaboration between Israeli and U.S. institutions as 32 participants from universities and colleges across the country prepare to travel to Israel on the 2023 Summer Faculty Fellowship Program.

Participants will take part in the trip from May 27 to June 9, traveling throughout Israel and meeting Israeli professors from their respective disciplines and with the same or similar research interests—all with the goal of developing collaborations, research projects, co-authoring articles, and establishing exchange programs between faculty and students.

Through the support of JNF-USA’s Boruchin Center and individual donors, the tour (in which more than 600-plus have already taken part) is a completely paid intensive program to Israel for full-time U.S.-based academics from recognized universities/learning institutions. JNF-USA also runs the annual Caravan for Democracy Student Leadership Mission to Israel, where 80 college students travel to Israel in December/January; a Winter Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel; and a host of other trips and missions.

“The program in Israel is a life-changing experience that tantalizes all the senses,” said Professor Molina Walters, STEM Education at Arizona State University. “One hears the history of Israel, tastes the flavors of Israel, smells the aromas of Israel and feels the heart of Israel.”

Faculty Fellowship participants visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photo by Vivian Grossman.

Participating U.S.-based schools for this trip include the University of South Florida, Auburn University, Purdue University, Arizona State University, Old Dominion University, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Seattle University, Texas Tech University, the University of Pittsburgh, Wake Forest University, Tulane University, the University of Florida, the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, San Diego State University, Indiana University, the University of Wyoming, Minnesota State University, the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Bryn Mawr College, the University of Houston, the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, the University of Utah, Wichita State University and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

“It has been a while since I’ve been so deeply challenged physically, academically and emotionally as the two weeks I spent experiencing Israel with the JNF-USA Faculty Fellowship,” said alumnus Vitor Mercadante, an animal and poultry sciences professor at Virginia Tech. “This is a truly transformative program, and I will forever cherish the people I met and the moments I experienced in Israel.”

During the trip, participants will meet Israelis from all walks of life and hear from a variety of speakers. They will be exposed to contemporary Israeli society, culture, historical sites and the way of life in Israel. The academics meet with professionals and experts in government, education, media and other sectors to understand the many facets of Israel’s evolving national and international policies. Participants will also gain a deeper awareness of Israel as a “Startup Nation,” its success in water innovation, and how the country addresses regional and global challenges.

For more information or to register for future Faculty Fellowship programs, visit:

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