(New York, NY -- September 23, 2004) -- Concerned about the anti-Israel environment on college campuses, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, has once again acted to ensure that Jewish students have the resources necessary to empower themselves in the face of intense pressure from Palestinian programming. Yesterday evening, Hadassah presented a $10,000 check to the Freeman Center for Jewish Life (FCJL) on the campus of Duke University in Durham, NC, where a Palestinian student conference is planned for October.
The money will go to support a year-long Joint Israel Initiative by the FCJL, the Hillel Student board and the Duke Friends of Israel, which is supported by Hamagshimim, the college-aged division of Young Judaea, the Zionist Youth Movement of Hadassah. A centerpiece of the initiative will be a series of events scheduled to coincide with and offer balance to the Palestinian Solidarity Movement’s annual conference. During that weekend, the Joint Israel Initiative will present a “Students Against Terror” benefit concert and rally on October 14, an Israel Shabbat with guest speaker MK Avraham Burg on October 15, and a teach-in and Israel block party on October 16. Throughout the academic year, the Initiative will bring a number of high profile speakers to Duke including Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Ayalon, Alan Dershowitz, and representatives from the Israeli government.
“Hadassah’s donation really gave us the motivation to do everything we had envisioned and things really came together for us,” said Mollie Lurey, Joint Israel Initiative student coordinator and a former Hamagshimim fellow, adding, “By doing so, Hadassah made a great statement on our campus.”
This is the second consecutive year that Hadassah has stepped forward to help Jewish students in the wake of the annual Palestinian student conference; last year a grant was given to the Hillel at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ to support their Israel Inspires program.
“It’s imperative for us to give support to these students, otherwise in 25 years there may be no vocal Jewish community in this country,” said National President June Walker. “Our gift is an investment in the relationship between this generation of college students and Israel, and in the future of Israel activism on campus.”
Presenting the check to the Duke students were Mindy Bloom, organizational vice president of the Southern Seaboard Region of Hadassah; Aliza Bricklin, president of the Raleigh chapter; Ronni Nichamin, president of the Chapel Hill/Durham chapter; and Lois Miller, president of the Winston-Salem chapter.
In addition to monetary support, Hadassah has pledged to mobilize its members from Virginia and the Carolinas to attend the October 14 rally at Duke. Hadassah’s presence on the Duke campus is considerable, where there is an active chapter of Hamagshimim. The Duke Friends of Israel will take a lead role in the rally itself, and throughout the year, by facilitating workshops, bringing Caravan for Democracy speakers, and providing media and activist training. In addition, the Hamagshimim Israel Fellowship is a leadership training program in its third year at Duke. Coordinated by students, it is a peer training program to develop effective Israel advocates.