There I was, last week, in the warm sunny climate of Florida. Actually it was rainy and not as warm as I expected. And to tell the truth, most of the time I was in meetings. But they were very good meetings.

I met with inspiring and impressive donors and leaders of our community, as well as colleagues and friends from our national Jewish Federations system. We talked about the challenges we face in our community, in Israel, and around the Jewish world: Jewish life on campus, Jewish education and engagement, and rising anti-Semitism in France and throughout Europe.

And our conversation turned many times to our campuses.

In campuses across North America, Jewish students face an increasing range of anti-Israel activity. This fall was one of the worst known in history and in April campuses are bracing for Israel Apartheid Week. Ensuring that students are supported to handle, respond, and deter these activities is one of the major priorities of our Federation. Our Federation partner, the Israel Action Network, has been working hard to help organizations on campus develop better messaging, build coalitions, and identify new tactics to fight BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction activities against Israel). In Greater MetroWest, we work with eight college campuses in our area to strengthen Jewish clubs, learn Israel advocacy techniques, and have access to Jewish life on campus. This month, February 20-22, we’ll hold our fourth Talk Israel Retreat for Jewish College Students, thanks to the Cooperman Family Fund for Jewish Life. We even have a newly formed Federation College Board made up of students.

I was also glad to meet and hear from Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International, a partner agency of our Federation. With 400,000 Jewish students on campuses throughout North America, Hillel continues to be a vital asset in building Jewish life and community. Between our local funding to Hillel programs, and our allocation to Hillel International from our Federation/National Agency Alliance, we are the single largest funding source of the Hillel system. If you’re a donor to Federation and you have a child, or a grandchild, or a relative who’s in college and benefiting from Hillel – then you should know that it’s because of your support. Thank you. Your annual campaign donation makes the difference.

I want to publicly give a shout out to Andrew Getraer, Executive Director of our Hillel in Rutgers. His dedication, professionalism, and commitment to Jewish life are an inspiration to all of us who care about our community and our future.

Andrew – and Hillel – continue to inspire and foster vibrant Jewish life on campus. We’re proud to partner with them.

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