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Israel Advocacy with Jerusalem U

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This installment in our series highlighting our Wednesday Night Enrichment Program, will focus on our Israel Advocacy Chug run by Rabbi Zeev Ben-Shachar of Jerusalem U.

The course provides students with an in-depth understanding of Zionism, Israeli history and the Arab-Israeli conflict. We cover topics including: the War of Independence, the predicament of the refugees, Israel's border disputes and security concerns, and the struggle for peace. By addressing these complex issues head on, students gain the knowledge to effectively articulate an informed position regarding the Land, history and people of Israel. 

The program includes a variety of multimedia educational resources, maps, images and videos, as well as current event discussions that have created a dynamic atmosphere in the class.

Students learn to distinguish between fact and fiction, acknowledge legitimate and illegitimate criticism of Israel, overt anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitism, as well as the more subtle pervasive negativity around Israel, particularly on college campuses. Students also develop a strong pride in Israel's remarkable contributions to the world in the fields of hi-tech, medicine and agriculture.  

Activism is an essential part of Jerusalem U's Israel course. We constantly remind ourselves that it is pretty easy to be an observer - to watch Jewish history go by and to cheer from the sidelines. But it is much harder to put ourselves on the line and become active players in making Jewish history.

Shira Cohen joined the chug in order to “deepen a connection to Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael, understand the Israeli politics on a deeper level and to be able to defend my country wherever I may be.” 

Zeev reflects, “I am proud to say that from the get-go, MMY students have been super-engaged and proactive, relentlessly committed to learning about core and controversial issues, and courageously challenging each other, and their teacher, to think critically and creatively in order to gain a better understanding of our land, our state and our people.”

Participants have shown the same level of enthusiasm for the course, Zeev’s style of teaching which encourages lively debate and is infused with facts and evidence. Rhiannon Chajmovicz is grateful for the public speaking skills she is developing. She also enjoys how the course complements her wider MMY experience, “I spend all day learning about my nation and our land from the past, I’m making it better by learning Torah in it. Jerusalem U takes this further by allowing me to focus on Israel today, building on the connection we have to it from the beginning of our history.”

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