Each year, more than 25,000 American Jewish students study abroad. These programs range from three months to more than one year and are a critical component of students' developmental journey. According to the Study Abroad for Global Engagement Study, a longitudinal study of 6600 study abroad alumni from five decades and funded by the United States Government, study abroad was viewed by students as "the most impactful aspect of their [college] experiences, perceived as being far more important than any other aspect of their undergraduate experience." In fact, the major qualitative finding of the study was that "overwhelmingly, the study abroad experience was among the most influential experiences in participants' lives, or was the most impactful experience."
98% of students say study abroad “helped them better understand their own cultural values and biases”
95% of students say study abroad "had a lasting impact on their worldview."
83% of students say study abroad had a “strong impact” on their civic engagement
73% of students say study abroad “influences their decisions in family life”
A critical juncture in many college students' development, study abroad presents a unique and powerful opportunity to impact a student's connection to the global Jewish people.
Founded in 2013 as the American voice to the World Union of Jewish Students, KAHAL quickly pivoted. Having studied abroad themselves, the founders realized too few study abroad students were taking advantage of the opportunities presented by international Jewish communities. For most students, studying abroad is a transformational and impactful experience, but not a Jewish one. Before KAHAL, the Jewish community was missing a critical opportunity to increase students' connection to the global Jewish people. Three years later, KAHAL is the premier organization for Jewish study abroad students around the world, helping thousands immerse themselves in Jewish life in 39 countries and 70 cities around the world.
Our Name: kahaL
KAHAL, or “community,” refers back to the once great, autonomous Jewish communities of pre-Enlightenment Europe. As the Kahals and ghettos dissolved, Jews became more involved in the secular communities of their home countries. While in many ways the Jewish community benefited immensely from their newly-gained liberties, one might say they lost the sense of community that came from daily life in the ghetto.
Today, Jewish study abroad students take advantage of limitless opportunities presented by the cultures of their host countries. They are free to be British, Italian, Chilean, or Chinese, even if only for a semester. Then they can connect with KAHAL and find their Jewish home abroad.
Alex is the founder and Executive Director of KAHAL: Your Jewish Home Abroad. Previously, he worked as an Associate at Capitol Media Partners, a global strategy firm based in Los Angeles. Alex graduated Northwestern University with Honors in Classics. His political writings have been featured in dozens of online and print publications. Fluent in three languages, Alex is a frequent traveler to Europe and the Middle East.
Campus Operations Director
Rebecca comes to KAHAL from Hillel at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she served as the Engagement Associate. Studying abroad at Hebrew University was a transformative experience for her and she wants to help students on a larger scale. Rebecca handles all aspects of KAHAL campus recruitment and reintegration efforts throughout the US. As a young adult committed to the Jewish people, Rebecca is very enthusiastic about making the difference she wants to see in the Jewish world.
International Operations Director
Through her travel experiences and work in the nonprofit sector, Becca has developed a passion for helping others to do more good in the world. Becca previously worked in development at UJA-Federation of New York and at Maryland Hillel and has experience in annual campaign fundraising, legacy giving, relationship management and database management. Becca loves to travel and has lived in Israel and South Africa and now resides in London where she manages KAHAL’s overseas partnerships and connects students to communities abroad.
Associate Director, European Operations
Steph is passionate about Tikkun Olam and using innovative solutions to create social impact. Previously, she worked as an International Development Consultant at PwC, managing projects related to global health, open innovation, and capacity building. Steph graduated with Honors for the University of Maryland and studied abroad in Seville, Spain. She currently lives in London and loves to travel, run, and practice yoga!
Campus Operations Associate
Misha comes to KAHAL from Brandeis University, where he completed his Master’s Degree in Global Studies. As an undergraduate, Misha was moved by his experiences in Eastern Europe and Israel, and founded a campus organization to address European anti-Semitism. Today, he volunteers his time with the affiliates of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS). Misha is excited to help create transformative experiences for Jewish students studying abroad.
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