Year-In-Israel Students Support Israel from Near and Far

November 7, 2023

For the remainder of the semester, the Year-in-Israel (YII) Program will continue in a hybrid format to accommodate students in multiple time zones as some YII students have chosen to remain in Israel and others have temporarily returned to their home countries or other locations. Together and individually, they are working to bring meaning to their communities.

On October 17, a group of Year-In-Israel students met up on our Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem to prepare boxes of food and toiletries for vulnerable populations impacted by the war. Our team in Israel reached out to the Keren B’kavod, the social justice and community service program of the Israeli Reform Movement, to ask what the YII community could do to help during this time of crisis. Upon their suggestion, the students, and the children of one student, packed up 15 boxes and wrote notes of support for the families who would receive them. Keren B’kavod delivered the boxes to African refugees through the Jerusalem African Community Center, an organization the students visited and learned about in their Hebrew immersion program during the summer.

First-year cantorial student Jeremy Sipe visited Central Synagogue, his home congregation, over Shabbat Lech Lecha and shared a beautiful original setting of “Hashkiveinu,” a prayer for peace. He is now heading back to Israel to continue with his studies.

A woman playing the flute and a woman singingFirst-year cantorial student Chessy Weiner performed in a concert at her home synagogue Finchley Reform Synagogue in a fundraiser for the IMPJ & IRAC Emergency Campaign. Joined by renowned soprano Rona Israel Kolatt and cellist Yasmine Abigail Kolatt as part of a UK tour, Chessy played the flute to two settings of Leah Goldberg poems – set to music by Chani Smith, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer at Leo Baeck College and member of Finchley Reform Synagogue. While temporarily back in London, Chessy has recently been teaching their B’nei Mitzvah program and helping to lead services.

On November 3, YII students were joined by Israel Rabbinical Program students and Jerusalem faculty to volunteer at Kibbutz Tzora (20 km west of Jerusalem) to help with the pomegranate harvest as no workers are available due to the war. Our HUC-JIR contingent also had three Hebrew College students and was joined at Tzora by hundreds of other volunteers from around Israel. Our participation was a part of an effort organized by Kol Haneshama.