The First Intercollegiate Aliyah Conference
Princeton University, April 28 – May 1, 2011

A group of student leaders, who are very involved with the JLIC at Princeton, started an exciting initiative. From April 28 – May 1, the first Intercollegiate Aliyah Conference was hosted at Princeton University. The student organizers, along with the JLIC couple on campus, recruited a total of 50 students from 17 East Coast colleges, including Princeton, who participated in the four day conference. The key speakers were three Olim (Rabbi Dr. Dan Jacobson, Dr. Kathy Bergwerk and lawyer Ronit Appel) who have successfully established professional careers in Israel. They spoke about the challenges that they have faced as well as the factors that have allowed them to succeed in Israeli society. In addition to a panel discussion held by the Olim, two information sessions explained the process of making aliyah and the benefits available to Olim, one hosted by Sharon Millendorf of Nefesh B’Nefesh and the other by Barry Spielman, a sheliach for the Jewish Agency. Rabbi Jacobson taught a shiur critically examining whether it is a mitzvah to live in Israel and conference participants gave divrei torah at each meal that reflected their personal connection to Israel. Sharon Millendorf led a session addressing the emotional challenges of living in Israel and she, along with the three Olim, held sessions in which they discussed their professional fields in Israel.

Participants described the conference as follows:
“One of my biggest fears about making aliyah is that I will have no friends once I’m there and this conference showed me that hopefully this will not have to be the case.”
(Sarah Schloss, Queens College)

“The conference was run perfectly. The speakers were excellent, the program was well thought out and the hospitality was most welcoming. Even though I’ve lived in Israel and have been speaking about Aliyah for years, the conference gave me a lot of new insights and perspectives on that very important goal of mine and strengthened my resolve to move there soon.”
(Mijal Biton, Stern College)

Five committed and JLIC-active Princeton students planned the conference, starting in January. Beyond the primary goal of organizing a conference that allowed students thinking of aliyah to meet, discuss and face the challenges of making aliyah together, the conference organizers hope to encourage others to regularly plan similar conferences at both East Coast and West Coast colleges. Over time, these conferences are meant to foster a community of students who can make aliyah together and sustain their connections through personal and professional relationships after they move. To maintain the connections already established, a reunion for conference participants will take place in Israel over the summer. The next conference is tentatively to take place at Yale University in February 2012.

We are most grateful for the contributions of George and Pamela Rohr, an anonymous donor and the Princeton Center for Jewish Life which made this conference possible.

If you would like further information about organizing, sponsoring or participating in future Aliyah Conferences, please contact us at

Colleges Represented:
Princeton University, Yale University, Brandeis University, Brooklyn College, College of New Jersey, Johns Hopkins University, Kean University, Lander College, Middlesex County College, New York University, Queens College, Queensborough College, Stern College, Touro College, University of Maryland, University of Pennsylvania, Yeshiva University