Shalem College

Shalem students say they want to make a difference in Israeli society. So we give them the tools to go out and do it.

We start by enrolling all freshmen in a year-long course on “Challenges and Schisms in Israeli Society.” The course, which comprises a classroom sessions replete with substantive readings, lectures by leading thinkers and activists, and experiential visits to the field, reveals the driving forces behind Israel’s hot-button issues, so that students can address them with sensitivity, wisdom, and nuance.

From there, it’s a small step to the next year’s community-service requirement, which sees each sophomore placed in a nonprofit organization selected for its ambition to effect broad, long-term change in the Jewish state.

Finally, the Office of Career Services and Leadership bridges, in students’ third and fourth years, the world of community engagement and career by channeling idealism into the professional realm. Each week, at a personalized internship and through the tutelage of a mentor, students see the myriad ways in which their broad base of knowledge and background in interdisciplinary thinking can contribute to a seemingly endless array of professional pursuits, each of which can affect the public life of the nation for the better.

“We encourage students to take a step back, study Israeli society and its challenges in-depth, and then move forward strategically to accomplish more than they ever imagined they could.”

Gila Rockman, Director, Department of Service and Citizenship

“Challenges in Israeli Society”

A specially designed course for freshmen, “Challenges and Schisms in Israeli Society,” is the first step in the creation of thoughtful, engaged, and influential citizens. Participatory classroom sessions, guest lectures, and site visits introduce students to the major areas of concern to the Jewish state, while at the same time, the course challenges preconceived notions of the reasons for these problems, and of the “right” solutions. The following are sample course topics, which change from year to year.

The Negev: The Challenge of the Israeli Periphery

Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State

Israeli Arabs: Between Ethnic and Civic Identity

Demographic Trends in Israeli Society

Ingathering and Exile, or, Is Israel the Home of the Jewish People?

Nationalization, Privatization, and Everything in Between: Economic Thought in the Jewish State

Human Rights and Foreign Workers

The Haredi Community

The Supreme Court and the Chief Rabbinate

Many Jewish Peoples: Jewish Communities in the Diaspora

Jewish and Israeli Identity: A Contradiction?

“You and I Will Change the World”: Social Activism and Israeli Society