My assignment this week was straight-forward and predictable: with hostilities heating up in Israel, with Hamas missiles from Gaza starting to aim at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with tens of thousands of reserve soldiers being called into active service, with Israel standing on the brink of war, I was to look into the situation of the thousands of teenage students from the States who are spending their gap year learning in Israeli yeshivot (the boys) and seminaries (the girls).
American Jewish students express commitment to staying put, while NYU suspends its Tel Aviv program.
Mitchell Nathanson’s calls to Israel increased when Ahmed al-Jabari died in Gaza.
Nathanson, an attorney from West Hempstead, L.I., whose daughter and step-daughter are spending this year in separate post-high school intensive Torah study seminary programs in Israel, realized that Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza would intensify after the Israeli Army last week assassinated al-Jabari, Hamas’ military commander.
At a time of great concern about young American Jews identifying positively with Israel, study-abroad programs in Israel for U.S. college students should be a great benefit. But while these opportunities provide exposure to Hebrew language skills and immersion in Israeli society, they also foster a disconnect. The fact is that diaspora and Israeli students rarely meet in the classroom.