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UCI Happenings

UC Irvine Students Chosen for Advocacy Training with Hasbara Fellowships

Students from UC Irvine are taking initiative this summer to get involved with Israel advocacy on their campuses.  Four student leaders from Irvine have been selected to participate in the elite Hasbara Fellowships activism training program in Israel this summer.  The four student leaders — Yekaterina Shutaya, Ryan Jenner, Ari Friedman and David Gutkin of University of California, Irvine — joined the Hasbara trip this June.

These outstanding students will be among 700 students, the largest contingency ever, from more than 60 college campuses nationwide, that Hasbara will be training in Israel advocacy education this summer.

Hasbara Fellowships was founded in 2001 as a partnership between the Foreign Ministry of Israel and Aish International.  Ten years ago it became evident that anti-Israel propaganda on college campuses was a force to be reckoned with.  Overt displays of anti-Israel sentiment grew into a burgeoning trend on campuses, and so, there was a need for students to stand up for Israel.  Since its inception in 2001, more than 2,000 students on more than 250 campuses have participated in the Hasbara Fellowships Israel Activism Training Program.

Hasbara takes students on an intensive two-week program with the goal of educating, training, and motivating students to become pro-Israel activists on their campuses as well as teaching the students to effectively combat wide-ranging anti-Israel propaganda.

Participants hear from an array of historians, journalists, military personnel, politicians, and academics that will offer perspectives on various topics.  Students have the unique opportunity to go on strategic tours of Sderot, Hebron and Israeli borders of Syria and Lebanon.  This year, participants also met with multiple Israeli members of Knesset, received top briefings at the Knesset, Israeli Foreign Ministry, and the Jerusalem Post, and visited high-tech start-up companies to learn about Israel’s advancements in alternative energy.

Students learned how to communicate effectively for Israel, answer difficult questions and run successful programming upon returning to campus.  Participants receive support from professional Hasbara staff to help facilitate pro-Israel programs.  Hasbara Fellows become highly trained Israel activists leading pro-Israel activities back on campus.

The Irvine students have all received generous sponsorship from the Rose Project in order to participate in the program.  The Rose Project has also been involved in such endeavors as assisting in bringing a full-time Israeli professor to UCI to offer a unique and first-hand perspective to the students and faculty of UCI, as well as the members of the greater Orange County Jewish community.  Professor Menachem Hofnung, an expert in political science, was is the 2010-2011 Schusterman Visiting Israeli Professor at the University of California, Irvine.

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Chabad at UCI Encounters Vandalism

On May 31 at around 1:30 p.m. a clay flower pot was thrown at the dining room window of Rabbi Zevi and Miriam Tenenbaum, the rabbi and rebbitzen of Chabad at UCI, thereby shattering a panel of glass.  No one was hurt.  The family was not home, and the housekeeper was safely upstairs.  The Irvine Police Department and UCI Police Department were contacted.

According to Rabbi Tenenbaum, “At this time, they do not have a suspect.  As well, we have no lead as to if this was a hate crime against our Jewish Home and Chabad House, or a random act of vandalizing.”

The Irvine Police Department designated extra security for the next few weeks, and its detectives “are doing all they can to find the perpetrator,” Rabbi Tenenbaum said.  He added, “Chabad at UC Irvine will be continuing its regular activities.  At this time we must show our unity as a Jewish Nation and continue to build Jewish Life at UCI.”

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