Above: First- and second-year Hornstein students participate annually in the Kraft Seminar in Israel. They are pictured here in the Old City of Jerusalem in late 2015. Seminars such as this and the Seminar in the Former Soviet Union provide students with a solid foundation of knowledge about Jewish life in Israel and in communities around the world. 

Read more about the Seminar in Israel>

Hornstein students, Kraft Seminar in Israel, 2015-16

Myra Kraft
 Seminar in Israel:

"Each time I go to Israel, it feels like I'm going home," said second-year student Joel Abramson MA/MBA'16 to his Facebook friends as he departed for Tel Aviv for the Hornstein Program's annual Seminar in Israel.

Highlights of this year's seminar include visits with Col. (Res.) Dr. Danny Tirza, the IDF's chief architect of Israel's security barrier, Israeli Knesset Member Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union), and Roots / Shorashim, a network of local Palestinians and Israelis working to foster "understanding, nonviolence, and transformation."

"For the Hornstein program, it is of paramount importance that our students, citizens of the Jewish world, be immersed in educating themselves about Israel and the Jewish people," says Professor Rachel Fish, the seminar's lead faculty.

“In preparation for the study tour Hornstein students are immersed in educational content that relies upon historical scaffolding in order to provide a comprehensive understanding of the realities and challenges Israel encounters as the laboratory of the Jewish people. This laboratory was and remains, the only place where Jews can wrestle with the challenges of living as the majority population while maintaining responsibility for a citizenry that is not homogeneous,” she says. 

“Israeli Jews holding power in the nation-state created for the Jewish people yet beholden to democratic values and norms is demanding.

“Questions demand answers:

  • How does one treat the stranger in our midst?
  • How is “Jewishness” understood and what is the role of the state in defining one’s Jewish identity? 
  • What ought the relationship be between Israeli Jews and Jews living throughout Diaspora?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities for Israel as both a Jewish and democratic state?” 

Says Prof. Fish, “Grappling with these types of issues and questions demonstrates the complexities surrounding Israel and they continue to resonate today as they did sixty-eight years ago.”

“One of the best things about the Kraft Seminar is that there are so many issues in and around Israel that we explore. Because everyone comes to the Seminar with different levels of knowledge, comfort, and ability to add to the conversation around these issues, we’re all able to help each other gain deeper insight,” says David Korenthal MA/MBA’16 and cochair with Erica Goldman MA’MBA’16 of the Kraft Seminar student committee.

Processing is key. “Processing sessions help us process what we are seeing, hearing, and feeling,” says David. “Resolutions, or solutions, are rarely found, and that is not necessarily the point. Rather, in processing we seek to understand on an individual level how our unique knowledge and experiences are interacting with each speaker we meet and what our classmates are adding to that discussion. It is a constant process, and our processing sessions often create more questions for each of us to ask of ourselves, our colleagues, and our fields of study.”