As graduation season continues, we're taking a look back at some of the great Hillel events that took place this year.
At Eastern Michigan University Hillel, mid-April saw tense but amazingly real discussions facilitated by a Talk Israel Tent event on campus. With an ongoing theme of "ownership" and the question of "how can one people claim ownership over a land?" the conversation covered settlements and the creation of the State of Israel.
Three Jewish faculty members visited the Talk Israel Tent to speak, along with the students from two different courses: Introduction to Political Science (a group that had learned about the Middle East two weeks before), and a Comparative Religion class. Some social work students attended as well, with an interest in talking about refugees and what it means to be resettled.
Miriam Borenstein, Engagement Director at EMU Hillel, notes that the Talk Israel Tent event is a great building block for developing an Israel presence on campus. Borenstein says, "I think this is a great model. In the two years I've been here, there have been very few Israel events and a little haphazard. It's been difficult to find a balance between advocacy and discussion. This campus feels just advocacy is insensitive, but have been reluctant to have dialogue. This day-long event accomplished both."
The Talk Israel Tent initiative was supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation and began in the Fall on more than 20 campuses across North America. In the Spring, the Tents were on 10 additional campuses. These tents demonstrated Hillel's commitment to setting a positive Israel agenda on campus and fostering civil discourse about Israel - both pre-conditions for the urgent mission of engaging more students in the Israel conversation and within the community of support.
The Talk Israel paradigm created a day-long platform that boldly proclaimed a proud presence for Israel in the heart of campus, and notably, Talk Israel's impact extends beyond the day on the quad with follow up conversations and programming.
Have you experienced a Talk Israel Tent for yourself? Please share your thoughts on it in the comments!