Dr. David Mendelson, Director of the Year-In-Israel Program, writes:
Our incoming Year-In-Israel class numbers 45 students of whom 31 are rabbinical, nine cantorial, and five education students. This year, they are privileged to be enjoying full tuition coverage courtesy of the Koret Foundation. What a gift! We have two students aged 30 and over and a two-thirds ratio of women to men. A record eighteen students participated in the pre-ulpan, which is a month long study program aimed at getting our students to the required level to begin the mandatory summer ulpan. During the summer term, aside from learning Hebrew, students study Biblical History which naturally takes advantage of the various archeological sites in and around Jerusalem. The heat has been rather intense but our students and faculty struggle heroically to overcome the challenge. Water, sunscreen and walking shoes were the order of the day.
The first week of the program was Orientation aimed at getting students familiar with their immediate environment in and around the campus. Students also had the opportunity to visit the homes of some members of faculty and staff. Journalist and author,Yossi Klein-Halevi addressed the students unravelling the seeming contradictions of Israeli society. The events around the Kotel , WOW,and Conversion Bill rallied students to various protest gatherings and the violence that followed the shootings on the Temple Mount also immersed students in the highs and lows of living in this city. They certainly seem to have taken this all in their stride!
The incoming class participated in the Gay Pride march which fortunately went off in a relatively peaceful manner. However and more recently, two of our students found themselves harassed by security officials at the Kotel when they attended a Rosh Chodesh Women of the Wall tfilah. Read about their experience in the August 25th Forward article.
Rabbi David Wilfond '97 will be returning to us as rabbi to the program. We are also excited to have secured the services of modern liturgist, Alden Solovy who will teach a short course on Creative Liturgy.
During the summer students enjoyed the support of three interns, upper class students: Jade Sank, Max Chaikin, and Nora Feinstein. Together they worked to absorb the new class into the college and its immediate environs. They were excellent role models illustrating to the incoming class how students grow through the College-Institute experience. The incoming class is adjusting very well. The faculty and staff continue to work closely with them.