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Israel Studies Project

For the last six years, the Israel Studies Project has brought Israeli writers and scholars of the highest caliber to Urbana-Champaign. A collaboration between Illinois and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, it has moved us to the forefront of national and international efforts in Israel Studies.

The Israel Studies Project grew out of an op-ed piece by Michael Kotzin, Executive Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. Kotzin proposed that federations and universities work together to foster the study of Israel at North American college and universities.

With the joint sponsorship of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and former Illinois Chancellor Richard Herman, we have been able to invite Israeli academics, writers, and artists to come for visits from a few weeks to several semesters. The presence of such prominent Israeli academics and artists gives both campus and community access to important and often little-known work on Israel and the Middle East.

Our visitors have included the following:

2005-06  
Yossi Klein Halevi, Journalist and Writer (Fall, two weeks)    
Hillel Halkin, Journalist, Writer, Translator (Spring, two weeks)

2006-07   Yosef and Geulah Gorny with Craig Alexander
Gail Hareven, Writer (Fall semester)     
Hana Wirth-Nesher, Literature Scholar (Spring, two weeks)

2007-08  
Yosef Gorny, Historian (Fall, two weeks)     
Orly Castel-Bloom, Writer (Spring, two and a half weeks)

2008-09  
Asaf Ashery, Writer and Screenwriter (Fall and Spring semesters)

2009-10  
Irit Linur, Writer (Fall, two weeks)     
Dalya Bilu, Translator (Spring, two weeks)

2010-11  
Etgar Keret & Shira Geffen, Writers (Fall, two weeks) -- watch An Evening with Etgar Keret here   
Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Literature Scholar (Spring, one week)

2011-12  
Ron Leshem, Writer (Fall, one week) -- watch An Evening with Ron Leshem here      
Dan Laor, Writer (Spring, one week) -- watch "Writing the Holocaust: Is It Still Relevant" here

2012-13  
Joseph Cedar, Filmmaker (Fall, half a week)     
Matan Hermoni, Writer (Fall, one week) -- watch An Evening with Matan Hermoni here

2013-14  
Rhona Seidelman, Historian (Fall and Spring semesters)

2014-15  
Sayed Kashua, Novelist, TV Writer/Producer, Columnist (Fall and Spring semesters) - watch An Evening with Sayed Kashua here

All our visitors are highly visible on campus. They give major public lectures, visit classes, and lead workshops. They are also active in the community, speaking on WILL-AM, the local NPR station and visiting Hillel, Sinai Temple, and the Rotary Club.