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Israel Engagement

Israel Engagement

Providing students with engagement and learning opportunities

Israel programs and initiatives connect Duke students with Israel both on campus and abroad. Our approach to Israel is framed through the following three Es:

  1. Education: Programs that focus on teaching students about the diverse aspects of Israel — not just the geopolitical conflict, but also its people, culture, society, and language.
  2. Experience: Travel to Israel for firsthand experience of the country, including through Birthright Israel, Tamid, Onward, and Masa fellowships.
  3. Engagement: One-on-one coffee conversations and meetings with the Israel Fellow to explore personal connection to and views on Israel in order to help students articulate their Israel story.

Birthright Israel

Students smile in IsraelEach spring, Jewish Life at Duke has hosted its very own Birthright Israel trip for current Duke University students.

Birthright Israel is an international program that offers young Jews ages 18 to 32 the opportunity to visit Israel free of charge on a 10-day peer group trip. Led by our staff members, students travel throughout the country, exploring sites of historical, cultural, and religious significance. We are happy to work with graduate students who wish to travel on a Birthright Israel trip with those closer to their own age.

Summer Trip

Our most recent Birthright Israel trip took place May 14-25, 2023.

Stay tuned for our Summer 2024 Birthright Israel trip dates. Registration will open in January 2024.

Explore what a trip will look like! Visit FREEISRAELTRIP.ORG/DUKE

Students smile at a Hanukkah partyJewish Agency Israel Fellow

A partnership program between Hillel International and The Jewish Agency for Israel, the Heyman Winter Israel Fellow is the crux of and catalyst for Israel engagement on campus. This full-time Jewish Life at Duke staff member, an Israeli young professional who has served in the Israeli Defense Forces and earned a college degree, spends one to three years serving Duke’s Jewish students. He/she inspires individual students to develop meaningful and enduring relationships to the land, people, culture, and society of Israel.

The Heyman Winter Israel Fellow advises our Israel-focused student groups, recruits for and travels with students on an annual 10-day Birthright Israel trip, accompanies students to Israel advocacy conferences, plans on-campus Israel programs, and connects with students one-on-one to help students articulate their Jewish journey and identity through the lens of their relationship to Israel.

On Campus Israel Programs

On-campus Israel programs are spearheaded by the Heyman Winter Israel Fellow and vary each year based on student interest and current events. Past Israel programming has included:

  • Jewish Learning Fellowship: Israel:  Seminar-style discussion exploring topics central to Israel’s history, people, and society; seeking to better understand how Israel as a country and concept fits into our identity as Jews living in the diaspora; and examining our own relationships to it.
  • Speakers about Israel: Speakers brought to campus have included Yossi Klein Halevi, Bari Weiss, Nachman Shai, David Makovsky, Yair Rosenberg, David Blu, Erin Schrode, Ari Shavit,  Dara Horn.
  • Café Ivrit: conversational Hebrew groups for students interested in practicing Hebrew outside of the classroom.

Israel Focused Student Groups

Students are involved in a variety of Israel focused student groups advised by our Israel Fellow. Students groups include: 

Duke Friends of Israel (DFI)
Duke Friends of Israel is a nonpartisan student organization that offers a safe space to discuss, understand, and learn about Israel. This group provides a breadth of programming designed to increase appreciation for all aspects of Israel throughout the Duke community.

For more information find us on DukeGroups.

Duke Israel Public Affairs Committee (DIPAC)
As a non-partisan organization, DIPAC works closely with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), America’s pro-Israel lobby, to achieve peace and strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. We provide Duke students the opportunity to attend national conferences focusing on Israeli politics. On campus, students have the opportunity to get involved in writing op-eds for the Duke Chronicle, attending events that provide skills on how to be an advocate for Israel, educate student leaders and policymakers about the issues and much more. We thank Ari Ackerman and donors of the Israel Program Fund for their support of DIPAC.  

For more information find us on DukeGroups.

Duke J Street U
Duke J Street U is the student-run branch of J Street, the political advocacy group supporting a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. Duke J Street U is committed to creating a productive space for nuanced dialogue and education surrounding the Israeli occupation and other critical issues of Israeli democracy and human rights.

Support Our Israel Programs

We rely on donations from alumni, parents, and friends to make our Israel Programs possible at Duke.

Your donation to the Jewish Life at Duke's Israel Programming Fund supports Israel-themed lectures, guest speakers, seminars, conversational groups, and events; student travel for Israel policy conferences; Israel-focused student groups; and programs related to our full-time Jewish Agency Israel Fellow.

Student smiling

"The Israel Jewish Learning Felllowship completely changed the way that I thought about not only my relationship with Israel but also my relationship with Judaism. I came in expecting to just learn factual knowledge about Israel, the conflict, etc., which I did, but my biggest takeaways came from reflecting both on what Israel means to me and how we as Jews are all actually connected."

– Genna Wolinsky ‘23