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Reform College Students Armed for Israel Debate

Contact: Donald Cohen-Cutler

Reform Jewish College Students Armed for Israel Debate
Israel Advocacy Training Day for the ARZA-KESHER Fellows September 8

September 7, 2006 – New York — Forty Jewish college students will spend Friday in Washington, DC, arming themselves for what will undoubtedly be tense dialogue when they return to their college campuses this fall.

The students, who come from all over the country, will take part in the one-day advocacy seminar sponsored by the Union for Reform Judaism’s KESHER College Department and ARZA. This program has been made possible by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

“We must take initiative and prepare for campus encounters by producing the right material and programs that inform, educate and engage the progressive Jewish student population,” said Rabbi Andrew Davids, executive director of ARZA. “If we can keep these young people involved, we will be able to prevent others from becoming alienated from Israel. This program is the first step in helping many young people on campus to take action.”

The Fellows will hear from Rabbi David Saperstein executive director of the RAC, Ilan Wagner Jewish Agency representative, David Harris executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition as well as a briefing from the Israeli Embassy. Now in its second year, the ARZA-KESHER Fellowship program prepares college leaders to help set the parameters for dialogue about Israel on campus and ensure that the over 60,000 college students on campus who belong to families of the Reform Movement are exposed to a message that supports Israel in an honest, intelligent and loving manner.

The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.

KESHER, Hebrew for "connection" is the campus program of the Union for Reform Judaism. KESHER serves Reform Jews and supports Reform chavurot (groups) on campuses through partnerships with all Reform congregations, Hillel, and other campus organizations such as the Israel on Campus Coalition. KESHER also consults with Union congregations and summer camps, as well as campus-based Hillel professionals to help them meet the needs of Reform college students.

ARZA, is the Israel arm and voice of the Reform Movement in the United States, endeavors to make Israel fundamental to the sacred lives and Jewish identity of Reform Jews. As a Zionist organization, ARZA champions activities that further enhance Israel as a pluralistic, just and democratic Jewish state.


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