College campuses are supposed to be educational oases where students can learn about the world and themselves, yet, too often they are a dangerous breeding ground for antisemitism and hatred against Israel. As the war against Hamas continues in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks, Jewish students have come under attack for no other reason than their because of their religion and willingness to stand with their ancient homeland.
Jewish National Fund-USA has been supporting Jewish and pro-Israel students with an array of programming designed to empower them to advocate for Israel on campus. The organization has teamed up with organizations supported by its Boruchin Center, including Israel on Campus Coalition, Yavneh on Campus, and Students Supporting Israel. With Jewish National Fund-USA’s support and funding, these organizations are mobilizing thousands of students to rally for Israel, fight administrations that will not denounce hate speech, and create safe spaces for students on campus.
A priority has been providing support to students who have previously engaged with the organization’s Zionist programing, like alums of Alexander Muss High School in Israel, their college-prep study abroad in Israel program. Jewish National Fund-USA also supports students and teachers beyond the Jewish faith who have attended Jewish National Fund-USA’s college programming, including Caravan for Democracy, a 10-day educational program in Israel for student leaders beyond the Jewish faith who have never been there before, and faculty fellowship, which enables professors to travel to Israel and connect with their Israeli peers.
Professor Erin Stafford Dormedy, Department Chair at California State University and a 2022 Faculty Fellow Participant, recently addressed supporters at one of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Daily Briefings. “The long-term systematic invasion of our university campuses is not just alarming,” she said. “It’s dangerous, and it’s contributing to loss of life not just in Israel, but globally.”
The briefing also featured Rachel Hitz, a Junior at Penn State who participated in Jewish National Fund-USA’s Caravan for Democracy program. “At the time, I had no clue the impact it would have not only on my college experience but on my life,” she said, noting that one of the kibbutzim she visited, Kfar Aza, was one of the areas hardest hit by Hamas. “Caravan for Democracy was a jumping off point that gave me the tools and motivation I needed to become part of such an important fight, and that is the fight of pro-Israel students across the United States.”
Jewish National Fund-USA has also supported Solidarity for Israel Shabbats, peaceful walks, vigils to support Israel, and mental health programs for students that bring in counselors and therapy dogs. The organization also hosted a virtual hour for college students to come together, share their thoughts and feelings, and learn about the available resources. More of these sessions are being planned.
“Jewish National Fund-USA has been a great help here on Penn State’s campus both through the knowledge and skills I have gained by being a Caravan for Democracy alumna and through the support I have received from the organization’s staff,” said Hitz. “They have been so helpful in giving us resources on how to navigate keeping our community safe during pro-Palestinian rallies and how we are able to combat the violence they incite.”
In addition, Jewish National Fund-USA is working with students to fundraise for the organization’s Israel Resilience campaign (jnf.org), helping students make a difference in Israel. They are also encouraging students to attend its College Summit in November as an opportunity for students to come together in their support for Israel and build more ambassadors in the future.
To learn more about Jewish National Fund-USA’s efforts on college campuses, contact Edden Dreiman at EDreiman@jnf.org or 323.964.1400 x968.