Making Connections in the Holy Land


Published in Jewish JournalJanuary 10, 2013

By Jordan D. Robrish, Staff Writer

Alyssa Baron, a 19-year-old University of Florida student from Boca Raton, participated in the David Project's inaugural Israel Uncovered: Campus Leaders Mission trip.

The nonprofit David Project was founded in Boston in 2002 and works with 12 universities across the United States. Thirty-six student leaders from the partnering universities attended the Israel trip, as well as Avital Kranz, the David Project's senior campus coordinator for the southeastern United States.

"I have always grown up around different cultures, and this trip not only redefines my Jewish connection to Israel, but also connects me to my other side of my family and my peers," Baron said.

Baron said her goal for after the trip was to be able to fully engage in conversation about Israel with different people.

Trip participants explored the Judaic connection to the land. Hoping to instill the idea of coexistence in Israel, the David Project also exposed participants to Israeli society and community members, including from leaders in Tel Aviv's tech sector, settlers, Palestinians, athletes, artists, doctors and social activists.

"I am confident that this experience will impact our student leaders' relationship to the Jewish and pro-Israel community on campus and, moreover, that it will bolster our pro-Israel advocacy efforts on campus," Kranz said. "Sharing Israel with others is what the David Project calls 'personal advocacy,' and the magic of Israel Uncovered as an Israel advocacy trip is that relationships are forming, Israel knowledge is being shared between students, and this process is all happening with the country itself as a backdrop."

Stops on the itinerary included Tel Aviv, Israeli Independence Hall, Haifa's Bahai Gardens, Masada and the Dead Sea. Participants also partook in a Shabbat dinner with Israeli soldiers, entered Jerusalem through the Zion gate and visited the Western Wall.

"Israel Uncovered sets the context for pro-Israel students to work with the non-Jewish student leaders who participated in the mission and to use those contacts to further expand their campus networks," said David Bernstein, executive director of the David Project.