Rosh Hashana 2018
There is Israeli Hope On Our Campus

Israeli society is a diverse society of 8.5 million citizens. Aspects of social cohesion are measurably low when compared with the great majority of OECD countries. Demographics and cultural processes have reshaped Israeli society in decades from a society consisting of a clear majority and minority, to a society constituting  four sectors, or central 'tribes,' close to each other in size: secular; national-religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews together with Arabs.

This social reality is mirrored in the composition of today's first graders, where ultra-Orthodox Jewish (21%) and Arab (26%) pupils consist of close to fifty percent, a situation that creates a new Israeli order of human diversity. In this reality, there is no longer a majority and a clear minority with respect to fundamental national-religious-cultural or political questions, but rather a transition from the accepted binary concept of majority/minority to a new concept of partnership among the sectors that comprise Israeli society.

In this reality, young Israeli citizens from one 'tribe' have almost no positive social/civic networks with Israelis from other 'tribes.' This situation prevents the building of meaningful social/civil and professional ties for later in their lives, when they are parents, community, political and/or business leaders. This lack of inter-group familiarity poses a massive obstacle to building a cohesive, stable, prosperous and sustainable society.

In response to this challenge, we seek to implement a program whose long-term goal is to create a critical mass of adult Israelis familiar and comfortable with their fellow citizens. The academic space expresses perhaps, more than anything else, the new Israeli order. This space is the main engine for the development of the changing Israeli human capital; it is the first meeting place in which young people from all parts of society meet under one roof. The academy, therefore, plays a vital role in shaping the New Israeli Order, the image and future of Israeli society, the Israeli economy and the State of Israel as a whole.

The basic premise of the Israeli Hope in the Academy is that the entrance ticket to the centers of influence in society goes through the college campus. ZAC, with its diversity, is the most effective space for the creation of a common language and goals. The program will be established with an understanding of the unique assets - social, economic, and educational – of the academic field, and with the understanding that there is a need for lateral action.

The goal is to transcend the academic curriculum and to embark upon a program that will bring the various social 'tribes' on campus to make an impact on society in the region and then in the nation. The project aims to ensure that young people who live in Israel receive the tools and skills they need to deal with the Israeli social reality, and to live in the State of Israel as active citizens with consciousness. Because young men and women in Israel do not study together until they reach higher education, the project strives to create a meaningful meeting among the various 'tribes' in order to cultivate common values, as an essential element in creating change.

At Zefat Academic College, we want to identify and locate the agents of change among the students and to lead them through a journey of personal and social empowerment while studying with the aim of influencing Israeli society (in their immediate and distant surroundings) after graduation.

The challenge we face in the framework of the program attempts to provide an answer to the question of how the campus can serve as a space that creates a meaningful and constructive encounter among the different groups in society, while understanding mutual gaps, alienation and hostility.

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