UArizona Hillel has a new Israel Fellow for the 2022-23 school year! Yuval Morad is originally from Kfar Saba, Israel, but for the next year will be in Tucson, exploring everything Arizona and America has to offer. Morad had never before visited America and he didn’t even know he’d be living here one day until he got a wild idea during his senior year of college.
“In my last year [in university] I began to question what I wanted to do with my life,” says Morad, who then applied for the prestigious shaliach program–a project of the Jewish Agency and Hillel International–that brings Israel Fellows to American campuses.
A Dedicated Educator
Like many college students, Morad did not know if he wanted to go to graduate school, travel, or start a career. Morad has years of experience in the field of education through both his volunteer work and in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). In the IDF as an educator, he would mentor sixteen-year-olds about how their various skills could play a role in their IDF service, and how to improve their skills in the interim.
Morad’s experience in education prepared him for all of the programming he gets to present to UArizona Hillel students. He oversees the two Israel learning fellowships, JLF: Israel and Kol Yisrael. In Kol Yisrael, students learn about Israel’s political, cultural and social landscapes in a short course format. “ILF,” as many call the course, is longer and explores students’ personal relationships to Israel on top of a general understanding of the history and culture. Morad teaches his students about the differences between Jews in Israel and the diaspora, the modern state of Israel, socialism versus capitalism, and different ethnic groups and other forms of diversity within Israel.
“I want to [influence] students here to think differently,” says Morad.
Morad also engages with the community in a variety of ways outside of these fellowships. He advises two clubs, CatPAC (the University AIPAC chapter) and Homeland, Hillel’s Israeli culture club. He will be leading a Birthright trip with Jewish students this winter and a “Perspectives” trip with non-Jewish student leaders this spring. The Perspectives trip helps students understand the fullness of Israel’s political situation and includes visits to the Gaza border and into the West Bank.
Excitement of America
When Morad got off of the plane, the Hillel staff presented him with an eegee, a slurpee-style drink and local Tucson favorite.
“It was the biggest cup I’ve ever seen,” says Morad. While he was shocked by America’s portion sizes, Costco, and the lack of Apple Pay compared to Israel, he enjoys Tucson’s beautiful scenery. The avid hiker is tackling Tucson’s various trails and outdoor experiences.
What does this Israeli miss?
“I miss Israeli food,” says Morad. “There’s no good hummus in Tucson.”
He is excited to travel around the county and country, and do more self-discovery, but he’s also a self-proclaimed introvert who enjoys watching anime, playing board games and Dungeons & Dragons, and reading sci-fi books.
When asked what it means to be Israeli, Morad doesn’t have an immediate answer.
“I cannot give you the answer,” he says. “I can say music, I can say food, I can say anything like that, but the connection I have to Israel is more than home, it’s something that’s hard to explain.”
But with pride, he’s here for the next year to show UArizona Hillel and the Tucson community his identity and his culture. Connect with Morad at [email protected] or drop by Hillel anytime for a chat in Hebrew or a game of backgammon.