WUJS Israel
post-college Israel programs

August 2008 Archives

WUJS closes Arad center, moves to TA and Jerusalem

(originally printed in Ha'aretz Newspaper here)

After 40 years of operation, the World Union of Jewish Students Institute in Arad will be closed and its activity transferred from the small Negev town to the country's center, said a spokeswoman for Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, which operates WUJS.

"When we learned the Jewish Agency was closing the building which houses the Arad institution, we concentrated our efforts on finding another venue," said Barbara Sofer, Hadassah's Israel Director of Public Relations.

The Jewish Agency owns the building in Arad, while Hadassah took over the Arad institution from the Jewish Agency in 2006.

The Institute, which was established in 1968, offered Ulpan (intensive Hebrew) programs and courses about Israel and Jewish learning. It also held weekly tours and social activities. According to Sofer, the WUJS institute in Arad had taught thousands of students, with 25 percent staying on in Israel as new immigrants.

"Although the facility in Arad has been closed down, the Arad program has in fact been expanded," Sofer said. "The Arad center ran four programs for young adults, which included activities in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Each program was five months long. Starting September 1, those programs will be run from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and they will go on for six months and will include additional activities."

Hadassah National President Nancy Falchuk decided on the move last week, according to Sofer.

"We had 50 young adults who were supposed to attend at Arad," Sofer said. "We contacted them to let them know we couldn't have the program there. None of them canceled."

A spokesman for the Jewish Agency, Michael Jankelowitz, told Haaretz that the Arad building used to be an absorption center, but its function was changed last year because of lack of demand on the part of new immigrants.

"The WUJS institute profited from the boarding house services at the absorption center," Jankelowitz said. "They moved after they learned those services would no longer be available." 

Hadassah: WUJS Israel program won't close, just moving to Center

The WUJS Arad program will not shut down, but merely relocate from the southern desert town to the Central region, Hadassah spokeswoman Barbara Sofer said on Tuesday.

Sofer was responding to a Jerusalem Post report on Monday that the Arad program was ending operations because the Jewish Agency was going to close the town's immigrant absorption center that had provided housing for WUJS program participants.

According to Sofer, the program will move to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on September 1 for the fall session, which is expected to draw 50 participants from overseas. The five-month program will be extended by a month for that term.

All applicants agreed to participate in the relocated program when informed of the change last Tuesday, Sofer said.

When she learned she would not be going to Arad only last week, fall semester participant, Aliyah Schneider, thought the change could be "beneficial," a feeling she said was shared by other participants with whom she had spoken.

"The housing situation will be a better picture of life in Israel - living in a big-city apartment instead of an absorption center," Schneider said. "It's a shame we won't be in Arad, because there is something to be said for the desert life, but it's also an amazing opportunity to get plugged in [to Jerusalem]. And we're still going to hike the desert and study the desert subcultures."