McKenna Bates can hardly believe how lucky she is. In a year, when many of her friends are struggling to find work, after graduating from college, she landed her dream job.
Bates, a 2020 graduate of George Mason University, is the new Israel engagement associate at Towson University Hillel. In this newly created position, Bates will look for opportunities to mentor students in building a foundation of pro-Israel activism on campus and beyond, according to Towson Hillel Executive Director Lisa Bodziner.
Under this new model, the brainchild of The Associated and local Hillels, Goucher and Towson have created innovative ways to teach students about Jewish culture, politics, global awareness and further explore the nuanced view surrounding Israel, explains P.J. Pearlstone, immediate past co-chair of The Associated’s Israel and Overseas Leadership Committee.
While recruitment for Israel immersion experiences is still a priority when it is safe to travel, both campuses are looking to cultivate one-on-one relationships with Jewish students by meeting them where they live, work and/or study, even virtually, during the pandemic. “What better time to pilot something new,” says Tammy Heyman, immediate past co-chair of The Associated’s Israel and Overseas Leadership Committee.
Through the new Israel Learning Fellowship, an eight-week conversational seminar, Bates will bring Israel to Towson, despite the pandemic, in a safe space for participants to explore their identity and connection to Israel.