The Israel Seminar is a core component of the HUC-JIR School of Jewish Nonprofit Management program, designed to introduce future Jewish professional leaders to the social, political and cultural dynamics of contemporary Israel. Over the course of two intensive weeks, students engage in a variety of lectures and educational encounters – equivalent to approximately 60 class hours – exploring dimensions of contemporary Israeli society, with an emphasis on the Israeli nonprofit sector and Israel-Diaspora relations. Students meet with an array of intellectual, cultural, religious and political leaders, as well as with their counterparts in nonprofit management and leadership in Israeli social service agencies, municipalities, and educational and cultural institutions. The seminar is offered every other year (even-numbered years), beginning in mid-December.
Past seminars have examined such issues as the impact of terrorism on Israeli society, how the Arab-Israeli conflict is dealt with in Israeli and Palestinian schools, competing Jewish voices in Israeli public discourse, and the political dimensions of environmental and ecological initiatives. In 2008, the theme was “Israel at 60: Assessing the Character of the Jewish State.” Discussions and encounters revolved around three broad foci: “The State of Social Democracy,” “The State of Jewish Identity,” and “The State of Innovation.” The 2010 Israel Seminar in December 2010 will focus on the theme: “From the Welfare State to Individual Responsibility: New Roles for the Israeli Third Sector”
The Israel Seminar is led by senior faculty of the SJNM, and the seminar scholar is David Mendelsson, a lecturer at Hebrew University’s School for Overseas Students and an instructor at the HUC-Jerusalem Rabbinical, Educational, and Cantorial program. All seminar costs are covered by the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, including hotels, meals, internal transportation and health insurance, as well as admissions, faculty and guest lecturers. Students are only responsible for airfare and one meal per day.