#MakeItHappen Project in Action: Israel Shabbat Across Campus


Michale Goldberger is studying Electrical Engineering and Operations and Information Management at the University of Pennsylvania. She ardently loves Israel and enjoys teaching science at local elementary schools.

Michale’s idea to organize a campus wide event that encouraged celebration and discussion of Israel was chosen to receive a #MakeItHappen micro grant! #MakeItHappen asked young Jews from around the world to submit ideas for what they would do to create a meaningful experience in their Jewish communities. With the support of several community partners, more than 150 ideas were selected to receive a $1k or $5k micro grant to help them go from dream to reality! 

Describe your #MakeItHappen project idea and how it came to life.
The intention of “Israel Across Campus” was to celebrate Israel by discussing its many aspects in small, student-led Friday night dinner discussions. This event brought together much of the campus in creating awareness. By bringing together about 450 students to celebrate Israel, each student left with an enriched perspective and with a realization of how strong of a community we have at Penn.

We organized discussions in a way that involved as many students as possible and that allowed hosts to lead discussions on subjects they were knowledgeable about. For example, the head of the Jewish acapella group on campus led a discussion about Israeli music; the head of the egal minyan on campus led a discussion about partnership minyanim in israel. We also let participants sign up for meals that interested them in order to make the meals more of a discussion space rather than a lecture.

What was your favorite moment from your #MakeItHappen event?
The day after the event, I was bombarded with positive feedback about the program! Also, after Shabbat, I received an email from a non-Jewish friend who had come to my meal telling me how much he had enjoyed the experience. Since I could not personally be at all the meals, hearing the positive feedback from students filled me with happiness! It showed me that the event was a true success.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in putting your idea into action and how did you overcome this?
We had a few hosts who backed out last minute. While we still had enough spaces for students to participate, all of the hosts came from different backgrounds and thus reached out/appealed to different communities. In order to still reach those communities, we sent a lot of personal emails!

If you could plan a follow up event, what would it look like and why?
I think the best follow up event would be the same event! Every weekend there are many students who are away or who have scheduling conflicts. I received many, many emails from students saying that they wish they could have participated, and that they would be very interested in joining if we ever run the event again.

The best thing about the format of this event is that each time it could be completely different. A new group of people and a new topic creates a totally new experience!

What does your future hold?  
I am interested in working in international development. This summer, I am working in a science and technology high school for girls in Rwanda. While I do not have a solidified career plan, I know that I will pursue my passion for development in some way. Additionally, I hope to make aliyah in the next few years!

If you could have invited anyone from history to your event, who would it have been and why?
I would have invited Theodore Herzl; I would have liked to hear what he would have said at many of the meals. All of the students would have benefitted from his insight. Additionally, I think that he would have really valued the event and the engagement of so many students with Israel!

If you could invent a new Jewish holiday, what would it celebrate and when would it occur?
I would create a day of Jewish unity. In today's global world, the Jewish people are spread across continents and people barely know one another or their practices. Still, I think it's very important that we remain a united people with a united passion. The holiday could occur at any point during the year but I would suggest summer time because there are fewer Jewish holidays to observe.

Learn more about Michale’s idea here!

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.