The question of whether students should participate in study abroad programs in Israel after the events of Sept. 11 has met much controversy. While many fear living in the Middle East during this war on terrorism, some students said they believe it is just as dangerous to live in America as it is in Israel.
LSA senior Olga Frankenstein studied in Israel last year during the fall and winter terms. She lived in Jerusalem and stayed in the dorms at Hebrew University. During the terrorist attacks, Frankenstein’s parents wanted her to come home, but she did not think it would be any less violent in the States.
“I actually felt safer being in Israel. One of the things I learned over there was that you can’t stop living. After the terrorist attacks, people still got up in the morning, went to work, did their grocery shopping and moved on.”
There were approximately 120 students in Frankenstein’s program. Many returned home, but numerous students arrived for the second term. When asked whether she would recommend students studying abroad in Israel at the present time, she said that it is important to know what you are getting yourself into.
“You stay away from crowded areas and try to avoid town when you can. Despite the circumstances, I had an amazing experience,” Frankenstein said. “I consider Israel my second home and still keep in touch with my Israeli roommates.”
Though the University does not offer a specific study abroad program to Israel, there are many other non-University programs available to students who so desire. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Center for International Student Programs offers a variety of trips that cater to the social and academic demands of students. Undergraduates have the option of studying a summer, semester or year in Israel at BGU where they may learn the Hebrew language and enroll in a variety of other courses taught in English.
According to a survey by the Ministry of Higher Education, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is the No. 1 Israeli choice university. Students may choose to volunteer, participate in independent research or intern in a wide range of academic and service institutions. Students also get the opportunity to live with Israeli students in modern dormitory apartments.
The Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies also offers a one year program for students who wish to study in Jerusalem. Some of the courses include study of the Talmud, Jewish Philosophy, Hebrew, Kabbalah and Jewish History. They also offer fall, winter, and summer semester programs for those seeking a shorter trip. Their advanced Beit Midrash program provides Advanced level Talmud, Commentaries, and Jewish law.
LSA sophomore Lisa Layfer said that students should not be any more frightened about studying in Israel because of current political events. “I went to camp in Israel for four years and there were bombs going off all the time. They just happen to be broadcasted more now because of Sept. 11. I still think it’s one of the safest places to live and wouldn’t avoid studying there because of terrorism.”
LSA sophomore Brian Shimmerlik said he does not think studying abroad in Israel is a good idea. “I feel the risks are a lot greater than the benefits. No one said you have to go abroad your junior year. I plan on waiting till after college to wait until things die down and I feel safer,” Shimmerlik said.