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Israel and American Jewry – Peoplehood, Religion and Politics: An Academic Summer Program at the University of Haifa

‏יום שני ‏15 ‏אפריל ‏2019


Israel and American Jewry – Peoplehood, Religion and Politics

An Academic Summer Program at the University of Haifa


Israel and North America currently constitute the two leading centers of Jewish demography, identity and existence. Broadly speaking, they represent the two major Jewish responses to modernity – Zionism as a form of modern nationalism on the one hand, and integration into a liberal western society and body politic on the other. Their relations respond to this initial divide, while at the same time trying to coalesce a collective notion of Jewish peoplehood, based on culture, identity and a sense of a shared history and fate. The aim of this course is to learn more about the emergence of these two centers, and then explore the past, present and future of their relations.  


In recent years, the issue of religion has emerged as a crucial factor in Israel-Diaspora relations, especially in relation to the Jewish center in North America. The historical development of progressive Jewish strands in the United States, together with the fundamental changes in the religious makeup of Jewish society and the perception of the political role of religion in the state of Israel, have led to tension and strife regarding such issues as religious praxis, social identity and the public sphere. Religion with therefore be the main theme through which the relations will be explored, both historically and in relation to current affairs and issues.


    Academic Staff:

David Barak-Gorodetsky, PhD, main lecture at the program, is a scholar of American Judaism and its relations with Zionism and Israel, and teaches at the Ruderman Program for Jewish American studies at the University of Haifa. His fields of research also include political theology, post-secularism and the relations between religion and state in Israel. His book Jeremiah in Zion, and intellectual biography of Rabbi Judah Leib Magnes, was published in 2018 by Ben-Gurion University Press. He is a also Reform Rabbi at the Ramat-Hanegev regional council.


Prof. Gur Alroey,  Dean of Humanities at the University of Haifa, Historian of Jewish history in Modern Times and the Director of the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies, is the initiator of this program and the academic supervisor.


The program will feature a wide range of additional guest speakers relating to the topic.


  July 7, 2019 – August 1, 2019


University of Haifa– Talia Dorms


The course will include a total of 48 hours, 3 academic credits.

Week 1
: Israel – an Introduction

How Israel came to being – the History of Zionism

Early Israel – The Establishment of the State and the First Decades

Contemporary Issues in Israeli Society – Social and Economic Divides, Group Dynamics

Week 2: Focal Point - Religion in Israel

“Above and Below”: The Secular-Religious Continuum of Israeli Society

More Religious – or Less? Israel between secularization and post-secular theory

Religion and State in Israel – history and current affairs

Week 3: American Jewry

Jewish History in the US – An Introduction

Religious Strands in North-American Jewry

Current Affairs in American Judaism

Week 4: Israel-Diaspora Relations

“From Blaustein Ben-Gurion (1951) to AIPAC and JStreet”– the Politics of Israel-Diaspora Relations

“A House Divided?”: The Concept of Peoplehood and its Role in Israel-Diaspora Relations

“Women of the Wall” and Beyond – Religion in Israel Diaspora Relations


    Trips and Tours:

    The program includes Three day trips (Jerusalem, Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, Golan Heights) and one weekend trip            (Ein-Gedi and Dead Sea). All trips and tours are led by a professional tour guides with appropriate academic qualifications        and are held in English.

    Co-Curricular Activities:

The program will include a Madrich (or "Social Activities Coordinator"). The role of the Madrich is to take care of the group, to help with all questions or needs that arise, including health issues, etc. The Madrich also escorts all organized trips and tours both within the city and around the country. We will hold also tours around the city of Haifa area, Weekly volunteer activity in the community, "Kabalat Shabbat" and social activities on Campus.


    Program Cost:

$1800 per student

The program fees include:

   ý  Academic Course

   ý  Guest Lectures

   ý  Housing

   ý  Lunch on Campus  

   ý  Buses for transportation for trips and tours and for Field trip

   ý  Monthly Bus pass

   ý  Full administrative and Social attention

   ý  Tours Entrance Fees

   ý  Professional Tour guide in tours

   ý  Security Guard in tours

   ý  Israeli health insurance policy

   ý  University of Haifa T-shirt


<!- Minimum Number of Participants: 15 Students

<!- The University of Haifa requires all program cost to be covered prior to the beginning of the program. 


:Acceptance Criteria

The program is open to qualified high school seniors or students who have completed upper secondary school\high school with the past two years. A minimum high school GPA 80\100, or 3.0 out of 4.0 is required for application.


Each applicant will be asked to submit a letter of recommendation, motivational statement, and  Medical forms signed by a doctor, vouching for participant's health and ability to participate in abroad program


The applicant will need to meet the standards of Onward Israel:


Onward Israel is designed as a second peer experience in Israel. It is intended for Jewish undergraduate students (including those who have graduated within 1 year of program start date), between the ages of 18-27, who have previously participated in a peer program in Israel. Participants are:

·      Birthright Israel alumni who have not yet returned to Israel on a peer program

·   Or Teen travel programs alumni (who are ineligible for birthright because of their teen travel participation), unless they have:

o   returned to Israel on a MASA program

o   spent more than three months total in Israel after their teen program

 ·       Students and young adults who have previously traveled to Israel with their families but not participated in   structured peer based programs.


Registration and additional information:

infoint@univ.haifa.ac.il : Tel: 972-4-8288728


For academic info, please contact:

Dr. David Barak-Gorodetsky, davidbarak1@gmail.com, Tel: 972-52-6920713