August 23, 2001
Overseas Studies Suffer
Safety concerns cause decline in American enrollment at Israeli universities.
Many Jewish students are opting not to study abroad in Israel this year due to the tense security situation.
Major universities, such as Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have had to readjust their programs and secure funds in order to continue their programs and ensure enough classes so their students can obtain college units for their coursework.
American attendance is down 200 percent this year at Hebrew University's Rothberg International School, the largest program in Israel for overseas students, which has been in existence since the 1950s. With only 100 Americans scheduled to attend, down from 300, there are "serious budgetary problems to the Rothberg School," according to Roy Rosenbaum, vice president of the American Friends of the Hebrew University, its fundraising arm.
With losses this year of about $2 million, the school is in a crisis because it counts on student tuition in order to run. As a result, American Friends began an emergency national alumni fundraising campaign to raise the $2 million.
The Hebrew University is not the only university seeing a significant drop in enrollment, although it is the biggest. Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, which usually has a small program, has an even smaller program this year. According to Courtney Max, the associate director of overseas students, there are only 35 students enrolled in the program this year, as opposed to the 65-70 students that usually attend. While their overseas program is intact, students will be faced with less classes from which to choose.
Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv is faring better with a drop-off of 20 percent. Debra Newfeld of Bar-Ilan said that they are planning to maintain "as full and enriching a program for the students as last year."
Some students, like Joshua Kornblitt, a junior at UCLA, are still opting to go. Kornblitt said he's going to study at Hebrew University for his second semester despite the worries and protests of his parents. "My connection to Israel is too strong," he said. "I can't wait to go."