Diaspora Ministry freezes plan for database of US Jewish students

After an objection by Hillel International, the ministry froze the plan for the database.

Warriner Hall at Central Michigan University (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Warriner Hall at Central Michigan University
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Diaspora Ministry enterprise Mosaic United has frozen a plan to create a database of all the Jewish students in the US, after Hillel International, one of the organizations involved in the wider initiative, objected to this program.
Hillel International said on Monday that it had been unaware of the project until Israeli daily Haaretz contacted it to inquire about the initiative.
“Hillel International was not aware of any plans by Mosaic United to create a central database of American Jewish college students until we received a media inquiry on Sunday,” Hillel International vice president of communications Matthew Berger told The Jerusalem Post.
“We immediately investigated and made clear to Mosaic United our objections to this initiative.
We believe the initiative in this tender it is not in the best interest of engaging American Jewish college students,” he said.
“Based on our objections, Mosaic United has agreed to take down the tender from its website and cancel this initiative,” Berger said. “We appreciate Mosaic United’s swift response to our concerns.”
Mosaic United published a statement on its website that reads: “The written tender published fails to reflect the essence of the intended project and caused undue confusion. Therefore, Mosaic United is putting the tender on hold and any further discussion will be based on the directive of the Steering Committee.”
According to Haaretz, the original tender had stated: “The idea is to set up a database of all Jewish students in the United States [some 350,000 students] and to map daily all the Jewish/Israel events taking place on campuses, along with a daily structural mapping of Jewish/ Israeli online content from around the web.”
A source close to Mosaic United told the Post on Monday that the project would still go ahead but had been put on hold in order to reword the phrasing of the tender, noting that its language appeared to have triggered unintended connotations and sparked concerns that the Israeli government was collecting information about US citizens. “This is not the case,” the source said.
The idea behind the project, the source said, is to create a digital platform in order to reach the target audiences Mosaic, which seeks to encourage continuity of Jewish life among US Jewry.
“Without the digital platform, Mosaic United cannot happen,” the source stressed, saying that a database of this kind is necessary in order to approach the relevant people.
“We understand that in order to reach the youth we have to reach them via digital platforms.
“We are in full cooperation with our partners and we consult with them on everything.
It is legitimate that there will be dialogue between Mosaic, its partners, and the Diaspora Affairs Ministry,” the source added.
Mosaic United was officially launched in August 2016, and seeks to strengthen Diaspora Jewry through a series of multi-million dollar grants to college-campus organizations Hillel International, Olami, and Chabad on Campus International.
Amy Holtz stepped down as CEO of Mosaic United in March, just 14 months after taking up the post. She stated at the time that she had decided to resign in order to return to the effort to curb the rising tide of antisemitism in the United States.
The organization is still searching for her replacement.