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January 16, 2004     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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PAGE 24 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 1t Despite violence and bureaucracy, students return to Israel By Rachel Pomerance But the numbers are only about half of what they were NEw YORK, N.Y. (JTA)-- before the intifada, said Amy When the University of Penn- Sugin, director of the Ameri- sylvania changed its Israel can Friends of Hebrew travel-abroad policy, it was a University's office of academic bittersweet victory for DaVid affairs. Rendsburg. Many universities restricted The Penn senior might have study in Israel when the State spent his junior year in Israel Department issued a travel ad- were it not for the university visory after the intifada was administration,whichuntillast launched in September 2000. monthwouldn'tguaranteethat For example, Penn, which it would give credit for study in once was among the most pro- Israel because of a U.S. State lific providers to Hebrew Uni- Department advisory against versity--semlingabout20stu- travel to the Jewish state, dents a year--sent none the But starting next fall, stu- past two years, Sugin said. dents will be able to study in Academic policies remain a Israel by filing a petition that serious stumbling block for includes a statement of sup- American students hoping to port from an academic adviser receive academic credit for and a waiver, signed by both study in Israel and the Israeli the student and his or her universities hoping to attract ~uardian, re!easingtheuniver- them. sity from responsibility for the Some activists are aiming to student's safety, change that. Theshiftcameafterstudents Ross Neihaus, president of affiliated with Pennpac, a pro- UCLA's Bruins for Israel, said Israelcampusgroup, launched some students are planning a a letter-writing campaign urg- campaign to protest the Uni- ing a policy review and bom- versity of California's cancella- barded the provost with 400 tion of its Israel programs. letters in the last two weeks of The state university system, the fall semester, which sent 64 students to Is- "l wish it came two years rael as recently as 1999, asked ago, when I still could have students on the program to qualified for study abroad,"said leave Israel during the 2001-02 Rendsburg, who created aWeb academic year, and none have site for the campaign, gone through the system since More than three years into then. the Palestinian intifada, Ameri- A U.C. spokesman said the can undergraduates have ad- step was taken because of fear justed to violence in Israel and for the students' safety. Rabbi the ongoing conflict in Iraq, ChaimSeidler-Feller, director officials at Israeli universities of UCLA's Hillel, plans to take say. In some cases, the unrest up the issue with administra- even has piqued students' in- tors. terest in the region. InOct0ber, theheadsofthree Taken together, these fac- major Jewishacademicgroups tors have caused U.S. enroll- issued a statement to their ment in Israeli universities to members and the media. climb. "We wish to express our photo by Rachel Pornerance/JTA SUN)" Binghamton students Ira Glasser, 20, right, and Zachary Seiden, 20, attend a Dec. 23, 2003, orientation for Hebrew University, where they will spend a semester studying. alarm at the policies of North toward a student's grade-point American universities that seek average. to dissuade, discourage, pre- Other universities have vent or even prohibit students dropped partnerships with Is- who decide to study in Israel raeliuniversities that provided from doing so," said the state- financial aid and credit trans- ment from the National Asso- fers, giving students no guar- ciationofProfessorsofHebrew, antees that credits will be ac- theAssociation for Jewish Stud- cepted. ies and the American Academy Still, Israeli universities are for Jewish Research. reporting an upswing in North The groups argued that de- American undergraduate en- creased study in Israel was rollment and new enthusiasm harming Jewish studies pro- by students eager to study in grams in North America and Israel. called on u]hiversities to "re- Tel Aviv University has seen view their policies on study in an increase in enrollment to Israel in order to remove ob- aboutl00Americansthisyear, stacles created by administra- up from roughly 75 last year tive decisions." and 50 the year before, said Lawrence Schiffman, a Ami Dviri, director of the former president of the Asso- university's office of academic ciation for Jewish Studies and affairs. a co-author of the statement, Yeshiva University boasts saiditwasdifficulttogaugethe record numbers for its pro- statement's impact, but hesaid gram, in which students typi- he hopes activists will use it as cally spend their first year of a tool for protesting university college in an affiliated yeshiva policy, program in Israel. Policies on Israel study dif- "We have the biggest group fer from university to univer- we've had in the history of the sity, with some schools provid- program," said John Fisher, ing full sponsorship or limited director of Y.U.'s enrollment recognition, such as a waiver management. The university to attend a non-approved pro- now has 675 students in Israel, gram orcredits thatdon'tcount up from 580 the previous year. Students' eagerness to be in Bier said she Israel simply "won out this drop out of school year" over parental concern, ply--without he said. she could graduate on At a recent orientation in Instead, she opted NewYork forAmerican under- in Israel and chan graduates heading to Hebrew jor. University, students buzzed Bier said withexcitementabouttakinga headaches mean that t semester abroad. Jewish undergraduates Theirquestionsalmostmade in Israel, but it seem as if the students were are more passionate. headed to summer camp, not a "You get the cream violence-strickencountry.Stu- crop who areeither dentsandparentsaskedifdorm connected or rooms had refrigerators, how rael many rolls of film to pack and she said. whether they should bring Some students say items like water filters, cess still isn't so Ira Glasser, 20, a junior at The Universit SUNY Binghamton, said his has postponed its parents were worried about gram in Israel, but security, but study abroad "is simpb something that I really pushed credits are" for." ferrable," said so At Hebrew University, en- Aaron Wolf, 19, who rollment has increased nearly study in Israel next 30percent, toabout150Ameri- But students can can undergraduates this year. other issues when But policies at U.S. universi- ties still are having a "signifi- "Most--if not cant" impact, Sugin said. program returnees Enrollment in a Hebrew U. able to successfully pre-university program has dipped only by about 18 per- school," said Tel cent since the intifada began, University's Dviri. "The l whilethesemester-abroadpro- lem is gram, where students enroll dentswhoaredeterredla through their universities, has school's policy threat dropped by nearly half, Sugin students who heavily said. financial aid and are Like Rendsburg, many stu- transfer it to TAU due t dentsblame universitypolicies school's polio'} for thwarting their Israel study in Israel." plans. Dviri noted several NeSarah Bier, a junior at the under way, by both University of Illinois at Urbana- andadministrators Champaign, was prohibited versitypolicies on Israel fromstudyinginIsrael--despite But, he said, "I the fact that her international relations degree required her to study in the country where her retracts or down second language is spoken, travel advisory. PRIDE# ,47 990 TWO 'TOIW TOWNI )ME NILL/ ) IN It, I,' III MEE, I:LORII)A U'/0 SQUARE FEET OF AIR CON01TIONEI) LIVING ! 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