JBuzz News August 22, 2014: Colleges truncate programs in Israel, West Bank due to conflict

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Colleges truncate programs in Israel, West Bank due to conflict

Source: JTA, 8-22-14‎

Several colleges have pulled students out early from summer study-abroad programs in Israel and the West Bank due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas….READ MORE

JBuzz News August 21, 2014: NYU Calls Off Fall Study Programs In Israel Over Security Concerns

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NYU Calls Off Fall Study Programs In Israel Over Security Concerns

Source: CBS Local, 8-21-14

Other U.S. Colleges Pull Students From Area; Some Say Schools Overreacting….READ MORE

JBuzz News December 20, 2013: AAU, Jewish Studies Group Condemn American Studies Association’s Academic Boycott

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AAU, Jewish Studies Group Condemn Academic Boycotts

Inside Higher Ed , 12-20-13

Leaders of the Association of American Universities and the Association for Jewish Studies on Friday condemned academic boycotts — a topic in the news due to the vote by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli universities….READ MORE

JBuzz News December 17, 2013: Jewish Studies scholars rue ‘misguided’ boycott of Israeli academia

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Jewish Studies scholars rue ‘misguided’ boycott of Israeli academia

Source: Haaretz (blog), 12-17-13

As the American Studies Association endorsed a boycott of Israeli universities and academic institutions Monday, colleagues at the Association for Jewish Studies gathered in Boston for their annual conference where several called the boycott “misguided”…READ MORE

JBuzz News May 6, 2013: Monitoring Professors Who Hate and Attack their Country

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Monitoring Professors Who Hate and Attack their Country

Source: The Jewish Press (blog), 5-6-13

These professors utilize their position as a means to prove the justness of their cause while the fact that they are Israeli adds a sense of legitimacy….READ MORE

JBuzz News February 10, 2013: Jewish scholar Rabbi David Hartman, founder of the Hartman Institute, dies at 81

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Jewish scholar Rabbi David Hartman dies

Source: JTA, 2-10-13

Rabbi David Hartman, a Jewish scholar who founded the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, has died….READ MORE

David Hartman, rabbi known for promoting pluralism in Jewish world, dies at 81

Source: WaPo, 2-10-13

Hartman Institute/Associated Press – This undated photograph provided by the Shalom Hartman Institute shows rabbi David Hartman, one of the world’s leading Jewish philosophers who promoted both Jewish pluralism and interfaith dialogue. The Shalom Hartman Institute, founded by the rabbi more than 30 years ago, said Hartman died Sunday Feb. 10, 2013, after a long illness.

Rabbi David Hartman, one of the world’s leading Jewish philosophers who promoted both Jewish pluralism and interfaith dialogue, has died. He was 81.

The Shalom Hartman Institute, founded by the rabbi more than 30 years ago, said Hartman died Sunday after a long illness.Hartman is survived by his wife and five children. His funeral was scheduled for Monday….READ MORE

JBuzz Features November 1, 2012: Leonard Saxe: Birthright Israels Effect Still Strong Years After Trip

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Birthright’s Effect Still Strong Years After Trip

Source: Jewish Week, 11-1-12

Latest study, which tracks alums from six to 11 years out, finds impact on life choices and outlook

Indeed, a new report from Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies — the third in an ongoing longitudinal study comparing young American Jews who participated in the free Israel trip to those who did not — finds that six to 11 years later, the experience continues to affect life choices and outlooks.

Among the findings of the study based on interviews with almost 2,000 people, Birthright alumni — when compared to those who applied for but did not end up taking a Birthright trip between 2001-06 — are:

  • 45 percent more likely to be married to someone Jewish, whether by birth or conversion (however, only 35 percent are married so far);
  • 42 percent more likely to feel “very much” connected to Israel;
  • 23 percent more likely to view raising future children as Jews as “very important”;
  • 22 percent more likely to indicate that they are at least “somewhat confident” in explaining the current situation in Israel.

Nearly 30 percent of participants have returned to Israel on subsequent trips, with 2 percent currently living there. And 25 percent are married to other Birthright alumni, although few met their spouse on the trip itself. (Seven percent of the control group is married to Birthright alumni.)

“As the Birthright population has gotten older, as they’ve moved away from the program, the effects are as strong, or even stronger, than they were,” Leonard Saxe, the director of the Cohen Center and its Steinhardt Social Research Institute, told The Jewish Week. To be sure, this is not the first Cohen Center report touting the impact of the 13-year-old initiative, which boasts 200,000 North American alumni and whose mega-philanthropist founders — Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt — have helped finance the research…READ MORE

The study is available at Brandeis University

 

JBuzz News September 9, 2012: Sergio DellaPergola: Study: Jewish Population Shrinking Outside Israel

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Study: Jewish Population Shrinking Outside Israel

Source: The Jewish Press, 9-9-12

The global Jewish population grew by more than 88,000 people over the past year, and now stands at 13.75 million, according to a new study published by Professor Sergio DellaPergola of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem….READ MORE

JBuzz News August 16, 2012: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and the Weizmann Institute of Science: Three Israeli Universities Rank in Top 100

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Three Israeli Universities Rank in Top 100

Source: The Jewish Press, 8-16-12

View of the Hebrew University campus at "Mount Scopus." Hebrew U. was ranked 53rd in the world.
View of the Hebrew University campus at “Mount Scopus.” Hebrew U. was ranked 53rd in the world.
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASh90

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and the Weizmann Institute of Science were ranked in the top 100 universities in Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s authoritative 2012 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).

The Hebrew University achieved the highest rank – 53rd, with the Technion in 78th place, and the Weizmann Institute coming in at 93rd. Significantly, this is the first time that more than one Israeli university made the top 100….READ MORE

JBuzz News July 29, 2012: Israeli summer camps venture into Jewish identity building

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Israeli summer camps venture into Jewish identity building

Source: JTA, 7-29-12

Noting the success of American camps, some Israelis educators are trying to adapt the concept to fit their youth when it comes to informal Jewish education and identity building….READ MORE»

JBuzz News March 1, 2012: Eran Kaplan: San Francisco’s only full-time Israel Studies professor gives his first lecture

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Bay Area’s only full-time Israel Studies professor gives his first lecture

Source: JWeekly, 3-1-12

Eran Kaplan, the only full-time Israel Studies professor on faculty at a university in the Bay Area, gave his inaugural lecture at San Francisco State University on Feb. 21.

Kaplan was hired in August 2011 as  the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair of Israel Studies at SFSU, a position that was endowed in 2008. He also works under the umbrella of the SFSU Jewish Studies department.

Eran Kaplan

Eran Kaplan

His first lecture, “Israel’s Summer of Discontent: Social Protests, Nostalgia and the Future(s) of Zionism,” was a two-hour talk co-sponsored by Lehrhaus Judaica and the JCC of San Francisco, where the lecture took place.After being introduced by SFSU President Robert Corrigan, Kaplan walked students and community members through an analysis of the social protests that shook Israel’s urban centers last  summer.

“I’m interested in seeing if they signify something beyond the immediate demands,” said Kaplan, a Tel Aviv native, in summing up the theme of his lecture. “Israel is one of the most interesting examples of a place that has seen a shift from collectivism and a state-controlled economy to a free-market, individualistic society. In the new century, with the new crises we face, I’m curious if the protests were in part about longing, in a sense, yearning for the security the old system once provided.”

Kaplan came to SFSU following a three-year tenure at Princeton University.

Next semester, he plans to teach classes on the Arab-Israeli conflict, modern Israeli society and Israeli film, he said. He is also helping to arrange visits from Israeli scholars and experts, such as Ha’aretz journalist Avirama Golan, who was in the Bay Area this week speaking at several locations.

Hagit Messer-Yaron: Israel’s open university is booming

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Israel’s open university is booming

Source: The Jewish Chronicle, 11-24-11

She is president of Israel’s largest higher education institution. But it’s not Tel Aviv University or the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Professor Hagit Messer-Yaron heads the Open University, which has 46,000 students on its books.

Founded in 1974, the university plays a vital role in making higher education more accessible in a country whose economy depends on a skilled work force. “It’s easy if you select the best people,” said Professor Messer-Yaron. “But if you start with open admissions, it’s a challenge.”

The Open University is helping sectors of the Israeli population who have been under-represented at university.

Charedim have often been disadvantaged by the limited secular education they have received at schools, so the university has run preparatory classes in maths or English to bring them up to the requisite standards.

The university also has 4,000 Israeli Arab students. “If you take young married women, they are not allowed to go without a male escort. So we have study centres in their villages where they can come escorted.”

Next year a few courses will become available in English, enabling diaspora Jews in the West to study such subjects as secular Judaism or modern Hebrew literature.

Alex Joffe: Israel Studies 101

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Source: Jewish Ideas Daily, 10-3-11

The modern American research university is a house of many rooms.  The field of Israel Studies, which has emerged in the past decade, occupies one of the newest—and smallest—of those rooms.  Israel Studies programs are meant to address a serious problem and take advantage of a large opportunity on campus.  What happens to them in the coming years will tell us something significant about Israel as a topic of study and about the American university itself.

Studying Israel  Jan Jaben-EilonJerusalem Post.  The growth of interest in Israel as a field of serious academic study is not just American but worldwide.

Multicultural Israel in a Global Perspective  Association for Israel Studies.  The Association for Israel Studies, in existence since 1985, plans its 2012 conference in Haifa.

Follow the Money  Alex JoffeJewish Ideas Daily.  Between 1995 and 2008, Arab Gulf states gave $234 million in contracts and about $88 million in gifts to American universities. What has their money purchased?

Jewish Studies in Decline?  Alex JoffeJewish Ideas Daily.  Retiring faculty are not replaced, less research money is allocated, and fewer students enter the field. Is there a future for the academic study of Judaism?

In American universities over the past 150 years and more, academic programs and departments have come and gone.  One reason is that increasing specialization is, to some extent, intrinsic to the pursuit of knowledge.  Departments such as physics and chemistry broke off from one another as their disciplines grew too large and complex to be confined within a single intellectual and administrative space.  There have been fractures in disciplines like anthropology, where scholars of culture and scholars of biology discovered that they could no longer bear one another.

More recently, specialization has also been fueled by demands, from the subjects of study themselves, for inclusion on the academic menu.  Since the 1960’s, we have seen a proliferation of ethnic and gender studies programs meant to bring the narratives of ignored or excluded groups into the larger discussion.  Jews and Jewish Studies programs in American universities have been among the leaders of this drive for inclusion through separation.

At their best, such efforts have created true and valuable diversity—in the sense of new streams of thought—within American universities.  They have also created walled-off compartments in which faculty can preach to choirs of student disciples (or simply to themselves) and the politicians among them can clamor for more resources, often by claiming past or present discrimination.  Unlike Jewish Studies programs, which are largely funded by Jewish donors, most ethnic and gender studies programs are paid for by the host universities themselves.  Such programs can perhaps best be characterized as having produced some scholarship and much politicking.

Israel Studies programs have a different provenance.  After World War II, U.S. universities saw the rise of “area studies,” in which scholars crossed the boundaries of disciplines like history, economics, and political science in pursuit of ‘useful knowledge’ about a geographic region or cultural area.  Middle Eastern Studies departments emerged as part of this trend.  They are long awash in funds from, among other donors, Arab governments.  Predictably, these departments have been dominated by scholars of the Arab and Muslim worlds.  As their subjects have increasingly become the focus of world conflict, these scholars have—perhaps inevitably, in light of the current university climate—become advocates…. READ MORE

Alex Joffe is a research scholar with the Institute for Jewish and Community Research.

 

Civics studies in Israeli Schools to focus on Jewish democracy

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Source: YNet News, 7-20-11

Education Ministry approves controversial changes to high school civics curriculum which will emphasize historical justifications for State of Israel’s establishment

A new civics curriculum is underway after being approved by the Education Ministry on Monday. The new curriculum has a bigger emphasis on the connection between a Jewish and democratic state.

The program’s approval encountered a few obstacles due to a public battle between civics teachers and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar who sought to introduce the change.

A source within the Education Ministry noted that while the alterations were relatively moderate, they definitely mark a change towards a more nationalistic and Jewish direction.

Secular, religious students to study civics together

Education Ministry pushing for new program in which religious, secular high schools will hold joint civics classes. ‘This requires a great deal of courage,’ program manager says — Full Story

The changes include additions like a historical introduction to the Balfour declaration and the UN’s partition plan in 1947.

The declaration of independence will be studied with an emphasis on the historical and international justification for the establishment of a Jewish State in Israel. There will also be an emphasis on the State of Israel as the Jewish people’s nation state while explaining it from the perspective of democratic values…READ MORE