The Hillel at Temple, located at 15th and Norris streets on the west side of Main Campus, has received an $8,000 grant from The David Project along with a perk that will allow Jewish and non-Jewish students to travel to Israel for free to experience the culture of the country.
The David Project, a foundation for Jewish campus life, is an organization with a mission to expand Israel and Jewish discourse throughout college campuses.
Evan Herron, a student leader intern for the Hillel, attended The David Project’s seminar this past summer, where he was able to talk about the Hillel’s potential.
“[I’ve] talked to The David Project over the past summer and told them of the work we did last year, and how I was very excited for this upcoming year,” Herron, a junior Jewish studies major, said.
Herron said that at the end of Spring 2012, Hillel held a student leadership dinner, which brought various club presidents together to encourage Jewish discourse across the whole campus. From this, the Hillel received more than 30 signatures in support of this initiative. Herron said it was from this dinner and campus-wide relationships that The David Project chose to partner with the Hillel at Temple.
“We did work with The David Project before and got individual grants,” Hila Shaulski, the Jewish agency Israel fellow at the Hillel, said. Based off of this one-on-one collaboration with them, Shaulski said it is the first time the Hillel is receiving “serious amounts of money.”
Though this is Temple’s first time having a core partnership with The David Project, it is not the only campus that received the grant along with the free trip to Israel. Herron said that when he attended the summer seminar called “Israel On Demand,” 10 schools were considered to receive the grant. Temple was among the chosen schools, along with the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh.
“The grant is just to build coalitions on campus,” Herron said.
By using the student leadership dinner, Herron said he and the Hillel were successful at building these coalitions. With a goal of getting students both educated in Israeli discourse and politics, they looked for clubs and student organizations that shared the same viewpoint as they did: that Israel is a bi-partisan issue.
“We narrowed it down to the NAACP group, the college republicans, the college democrats, any minority group that does politics and also the student government,” Herron said.
With the perk of the grant from The David Project being a free trip to Israel, Herron, Shaulski and other Hillel interns looked within these clubs for students whose involvement on campus was noticed and who the Hillel would want to develop a relationship with.
Dylan Morpurgo, a junior political science major and president of Temple College Democrats; David Lopez, a senior political science major and Temple Student Government student body president; and Erik Jacobs, a senior political science major and chairman of Temple University College Republicans are among the students that were approached by Hillel for the trip.
“Our students will be first to go on this kind of trip,” Shaulski said. “We decided on [these students] because we found their roles on campus significant and we want to empower them. Basically, we want to strengthen relationships with them.”
Both Shaulski and Herron said they would want these students to return from the trip and be better educated. They expect to send at least three students to Israel.
“Our expectation is that when we do the Student Leadership Dinner [this year], we talk to them about it,” Herron said.
Communicating their experiences from the trip to other club presidents will allow for campus-wide relationships, and unite student organizations and clubs in appreciating Israel and Jewish discourse. Shaulski said Hillel will use the $8,000 toward community service, programs for the Hillel and other Israeli engagements. The amount of money that study abroad would cost is unclear.
“We are part of an exceptional project,” she said.
Addy Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.