Preparing Students For Anti-Israel Voices On Campuses

When you have a high school graduate who’s getting ready to go away to college, you try to prepare them for the obvious: dangers of drugs and alcohol, financial matters, relationships; all the things a would-be college student needs to know before going to live on her own.

There was one area that several mothers realized they hadn’t talked to their kids about: anti-Semitism on college campuses.

Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy has pulled together several local organizations for “Preparing U: Israel On Campus” on Wednesday, March 1 at the Sabes JCC. The event, which starts at 7:30 p.m., is cosponsored by Yachad, Minnesota Hillel, Minneapolis Jewish Federation Israel Center, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and National Council of Jewish Women Minnesota.

“I attended the Marc Yudof event at Beth El last fall,” said Stacy Pinck, one of the volunteer organizers of the event. “I just dropped my daughter off at Madison and realized we hadn’t talked about it. I thought I talked to her about everything about being on your own for the first time. I called her, apologized, and asked her what we can do. She told me to help teach the next generation of kids coming through.

The event comes after more than a year of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents on the University of Minnesota campus, ranging from the boycott, divest and sanction movement to swastikas appearing on flyers taped to utility poles.

“Federation was happy to help bring together community resources to empower a new generation of students,” said Debbie Lieberman, director of Women’s Philanthropy at Minneapolis Jewish Federation. “We want the event to provide tools for kids and their parents. Kids will be going to schools all over the country, and we want them to be educated and feel empowered and prepared.”

The event is open to the public, and although it takes place during the Yachad class time, Pinck said that Yachad Executive Director Dana Prottas was eager to partner. Prottas said Yachad’s 11th and 12th graders will take part in the program in lieu of their regular Yachad courses.

“Jewish education is about more than book learning and what happens in the classroom,” Prottas said. “It’s about developing life skills they’ll take on to the next part of their Jewish journey.”

Ethan Roberts of the JCRC will open with an overview of the subject before the students go off to meet in small groups that will be facilitated by Minnesota Hillel Executive Director Benjie Kaplan and several students who are active in Hillel and on campus. The parents and family members will meet in their own groups, before coming together in the end to tie all the discussion together.

The event was pulled together fairly quickly, which Pinck attributes to the community partners.

“It’s a true testament to the talent and commitment of the people who wanted to participate,” she said. “We have unbelievable resources in the Twin Cities. I was so proud that they wanted to help and do and get it out there. I’m grateful that we attract that kind of talent.”

Lieberman said that bringing these kind of resources together is what Federation does.

“This is why we’re here, and this is what we do,” she said. “We raise money for the community and we support and connect community partners when there’s a need. It’s part of us as the bigger community. We’re pulling together and convening for the betterment of the community to empower families. I think the program is a really good illustration of that.”

The event is free and open to the community. RSVP for the event here.

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About Lonny Goldsmith

Lonny Goldsmith is the editor of TC Jewfolk and Director of Communications for Jewfolk Media. He's an award-winning journalist who is involved in his third Jewish community after growing up in Michigan and spending a three-year stint in Chicago. He likes to write, cook and drink really good beer. He can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @lonny_goldsmith

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