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Fellowship for Hillel Professionals Established

The Institute announces a new framework for intellectual leadership training, based on Engaging Israel material. Applications due Mar 13


A program of

The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

in partnership with

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life


The Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI) is a center of transformative thinking and teaching that addresses the major challenges facing the Jewish people and elevates the quality of Jewish life in Israel and around the world. A leader in sophisticated, ideas-based Jewish education for community leaders and change agents, the Hartman Institute is committed to the significance of Jewish ideas, the power of applied scholarship, and the conviction that great teaching contributes to the growth and continual revitalization of the Jewish people. The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America enriches the resources, vision and commitment of leaders and change agents who will shape the future of Jewish life in North America and set the agendas of its educational, religious and community institutions.

In recognition of the crucial role that Hillel professionals play in the development of the next generation of Jews and Jewish leaders, the Hartman Institute has created a new framework for ongoing study, enrichment, and intellectual leadership training. The Hartman Fellowship for Hillel Professionals will cultivate a select cohort of 10-15 early- and mid-career senior Hillel professionals as thought-leaders in their local communities and for college-age students across the continent, focusing in particular on the complexity and challenges of the North American relationship with Israel and on other major issues facing the Jewish people.

The Hartman Institute is recognized as a world leader in providing pluralistic, intensive, thoughtful, and challenging study opportunities for lay and professional leaders in the Jewish community, engaging participants in meaningfully addressing the central challenges of contemporary Jewish life, enriching and enhancing their knowledge in the foundations of Jewish thought, and providing them with empowerment tools to impart this knowledge to the countless North American Jews whose lives they influence and stimulate on a daily basis. By studying together in a pluralistic and spiritually and intellectually challenging Beit Midrash environment, cohort members will deepen their knowledge and develop their own voices as intellectual and spiritual leaders in the North American Jewish community.


The primary curricular focus of the Hartman Fellowship for Hillel Professionals is to enrich the thinking of Hillel leaders – and, therefore, the students they serve – on the topic of North American Jews’ relationships with Israel. College-aged youth often feel alienated from Israel and question its relevance to their lives. More than any other constituency, younger Jews are less convinced or motivated by the crisis narratives in which the traditional relationship with Israel was grounded. The Fellowship will train a select group of Hillel leaders to think in more sophisticated terms about Israel as a core element of Jewish life and to then cultivate substantive and compelling conversations about and relationships with Israel in the college communities they serve, connecting students to a deeper understanding of themselves as Jews and as members of the Jewish people.

The core curriculum of the Fellowship will be drawn from the Hartman Institute’s Engaging Israel Project. Probing beyond the political issues of the day, the Engaging Israel Project re-frames the discussion about the enduring significance of the State of Israel for contemporary Jews worldwide. Israel education programs based on facts and figures about the precariousness of Jewish survival often fail to engender a substantive connection for an increasing number of Jews, who see Israel’s impressive military and economic vitality and are unconvinced that it is a weak country that desperately needs help from world Jewry. At the same time, the political, economic, and cultural success of North American Jewry has diminished the compelling nature of the post-Holocaust survival narrative.

The Engaging Israel Project elevates the North American conversation about Israel by rooting it in Jewish values and ideas rather than in a response to crisis, exploring questions such as: What are the benefits of Jewish statehood? How should a Jewish state exercise military power ethically? How do we create and maintain a Jewish democracy? How should Jews govern a diverse culture with a sizeable minority? What values should a Jewish state embody? Why should Diaspora Jews care about Israel? The Engaging Israel Project thus equips its audiences with a quintessentially Jewish values-based vocabulary to articulate why Israel can and should be fundamental to our Jewish identities.


Leadership and Faculty

The Director of the Hartman Fellowship for Hillel Professionals is Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, who has served as the Executive Director of the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA for 36 years and is also a faculty member of the Shalom Hartman Institute. Chaim received his rabbinic ordination and an MA in rabbinic literature from Yeshiva University. Rabbi Julia Andelman is the Director of the Hartman Institute’s Engaging Israel Project in North America. A diverse array of Hartman Institute faculty will participate in teaching the cohort over the course of year, including Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, Dr. Tal Becker, Yossi Klein Halevi, and Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer. 


  • Opening seminar in Jerusalem: The program will launch with an intensive study experience on July 2-8, 2012, at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
  • Summer seminar at Hillel Institute: We will reconvene for part of one day at the annual Hillel Institute in St. Louis in August 2012, date and time TBD.
  • Mid-year seminar: We will gather again in person on January 7-9, 2013, U.S. location TBD.
  • Final seminar in Jerusalem: We will come together for a final in-person gathering to close the program in July 2013, exact dates TBD, at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

Biweekly meetings by video conference

In addition to the in-person meetings outlined above, the Forum will include regular meetings approximately twice a month. These will take place by video conference and will include guest faculty from Israel and North America. All meetings will begin at 11:00 am ET (8:00 am PT) and last for two hours.

Expenses and requirements

All costs associated with participation will be fully subsidized, including flights, lodging (double-occupancy), food, and materials. In return, cohort members are expected to attend and participate actively in all meetings.  In the final months of the program, we will turn our attention towards application to the campus setting; participants will be expected to play an active and creative role in developing an alternative program agenda for their campus communities.



Hillel professionals in senior thought-leadership positions in their local communities who meet the following criteria are invited to apply: 

  • The cohort will be comprised primarily of directors, but we will also entertain applications from assistant directors, rabbis, and educators.  All applicants should have meaningful contact with students as a regular part of their work. 
  • We seek candidates who have already served as senior Hillel professionals for at least a few years, but who are still at the early or middle stages of their careers.
  • Applicants may possess any level of background and facility with traditional Jewish texts, from beginner to advanced, but a strong interest in regular text-based learning is required.
  • Applicants must have meaningful exposure to Israel, its history and current realities, and the North American Jewish community’s relationship with Israel.   

Application process

Click here  to complete the online application.  Applications are due by March 13, 2012.

In addition, please email a current resume in PDF format to [email protected] . If your resume does not include a summary of your work in your current position, please email an addendum in PDF format describing your current job, responsibilities and achievements.  Please have the subject line of your email(s) be “Hartman Hillel Fellowship.”

The selection committee, comprised of professionals from the Shalom Hartman Institute and Hillel, will issue invitations to join the cohort in late March and April.  Accepted candidates must sign a statement of commitment to participate within two weeks of receiving an invitation in order to hold their spot in the cohort.


More information about the Hartman Institute’s Engaging Israel Project can be found at www.iengage.org.il . For more information about the Hartman Fellowship for Hillel Professionals, prospective candidates are invited to contact Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller or Rabbi Julia Andelman .

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