Texas Hillel Introduces Jewish Agency Israel Fellow
One of Texas Hillel’s goals is to inspire every Jewish college student to develop a meaningful and enduring relationship with Israel. Texas Hillel accomplishes this goal by providing Israel programming, education and advocacy work, offering Birthright Israel trips and having a Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow on staff. Jewish Agency Israel Fellows work every day to engage and educate Jewish college students about Israel. Fellows are often students’ first introduction to Israelis and Israel.
Texas Hillel has had a Jewish Agency Israel Fellow on staff since 2003 and is currently one of only 100 campuses in the United States with a fellow on staff. Texas Hillel’s new Jewish Agency Israel Fellow is Assaf Baruchi. He has been at Texas Hillel since August.
Texas Hillel Staff Member: Tell us a little about yourself.
Assaf Baruchi: I am 26-years old and my hometown is Nahariya, in the north of Israel. I finished my state science BA degree at Yizrael Valley College. My favorite hobbies are hiking, traveling, playing all kinds of sports and spending quality time with family and friends, mostly at the beach.
TH: As the Jewish Agency Israel Fellow, what is your role at Texas Hillel?
AB: My roles are diverse. On one hand there is all the Israel programming that I lead and coordinate and I am also an adviser to the student leaders. It is great to lead the Israel advocacy on campus and work side-by-side with pro-Israel organizations just as Stand with Us, The David Project, Hasbara fellowships, Israel on Campus Coalition, Israel American Council and many more. I am able to give UT students a genuine Israel experience, through the Birthright trip that we lead, and through my unique Israeli personality and life story that I share with students every day. I also help Texas Hillel staff to strengthen the Jewish identity of the students who feel a need to do so, by offering a unique atmosphere of Jewish education, spirit and fun.
TH: How did you get involved with the Jewish Agency Israel Fellow program?
AB: I wanted a job that will give me the opportunity to work with Jewish communities abroad in order to strengthen the connection between us, while I’m also playing a role in advocating for my country to the entire American community by telling them my story and beliefs.
TH: Which programs so far have been the most successful at Texas Hillel? What's the next big program?
AB: The biggest and most successful so far was the Texans for Israel Falafel Dinner, which opened the year with a big celebration of the Israeli culture with authentic food and music, while also introducing the students to a variety of ways to get involved with Israel throughout the year.
We are looking forward to Hanukkah Diwali, where Jews and Hindus on campus come together to celebrate their religions’ festival of lights, bringing both communities closer with a fun and energetic night.
TH: What’s the best part of your job at Texas Hillel?
AB: I get to know knowledgeable, intelligent and fun students every day. They see in us, the Israel fellows, more than just as educational role model, but also a big sibling who they can share whatever is on their mind and get our support and cool advice. ■