Santa Barbara Hillel is proud to be the only campus in the western U.S. selected for a national pilot program to foster student engagement, community building, and Israel advocacy on college campuses. This program provides a new full-time professional to focus exclusively on Santa Barbara Hillel’s Taglit-Birthright Israel programming. Santa Barbara Hillel was chosen for this prestigious honor along with four other leading national universities: University of Florida, University of Texas-Austin, The Ohio State University, and University of Maryland.
Through the Taglit-Birthright Israel program, Santa Barbara Hillel brings students to Israel each summer and winter. These young adults experience Israel with a group of 40 peers, along with the guidance of Hillel’s trained and skilled staff.
“We are thrilled to increase the number of students from UCSB and SBCC who can now experience Israel with us on our free 10 day trip,” said Rabbi Evan Goodman, Executive Director. “Participation in this national pilot program will help us grow our program as well as improve our ability to follow up with students once they return from Israel. Santa Barbara Hillel has taken its place as one of the flagship campuses in the country. This year we will bring 120 students with us to Israel. Next year, the sky is the limit!”
The newly expanded program will recruit more college-age Jewish students to participate in the Taglit-Birthright Israel Program and better engage these young adults in Jewish life upon their return from Israel. All of this is through the generosity of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), Boston’s Jewish Federation, in partnership with Hillel International in Washington, D.C. Together, they will work to expand CJP’s Israel Campus Initiative (IACT – Inspired, Active, Committed and Transformed), which builds on the success of Taglit-Birthright’s Israel program by providing support and inspiration to students before and after their free 10 day trip to Israel. Twelve Hillels in the Boston area currently participate in the program.
The national expansion is being fully funded for the next two years through a generous gift of more than $3.1 million from Edward Fein, a New York native who now lives in Nevada. A long- standing supporter of innovative educational programs and Jewish continuity and engagement, Fein is dedicated to enhancing and improving the experience of Jewish students nationwide.
CJP established IACT to foster engagement, community building and Israel advocacy on college campuses through the expansion of Birthright Israel and the active engagement of Birthright Israel participants in new programs. Since IACT began in 2007, 80 percent of IACT alumni are “sustainably engaged” in Jewish campus life. In 2013, more than 400 Boston-area Birthright alumni returned to Israel for short-term service trips and 200 core activists were trained. There are currently 1,000 IACT active alumni on New England campuses.