Xavier's first student trips to Israel in May focused on business, culture and religion

The trips were open to college students from Xavier and the Cincinnati area | June 11, 2013

Xavier professors and 20 students traveled to Israel in May to study business and religion in a country that is the seat of all three Abrahamic religions and No. 1 in the world for innovation and start-up companies.

The two trips, funded by a grant from the Jewish Foundation, were open to students from Greater Cincinnati studying at any university and included several from the University of Cincinnati and one from Kent State. Most of the students—10 undergraduate and 10 graduate—were from Xavier.

“Xavier’s goals for this initiative are very well aligned with the Jewish Foundation’s objectives to strengthen Cincinnati’s connection to Israel and attract more Israeli business talent and investment in our region,” said Jewish Foundation Executive Director Brian Jaffee.

“We have had many successful collaborations with Xavier in the past and are delighted to partner with them in this latest effort. We believe it will enhance our investment in the Cincinnati Chamber’s multi-year initiative to drive local innovation and jobs through economic development partnerships with Israel.”

The graduate course for MBA students, Doing Business in Israel, was from May 1-10 and was led by Art Shriberg, professor of management and entrepreneurship, and Stafford Johnson, professor of finance.

Students received briefings from several senior Israeli leaders on the country’s economic, political and cultural environment. They toured major religious sites and visited several companies, including Star Tau, Ginger Software, Google and Standard Textile. They were hosted by the president of P&G-Israel and explored the company’s global innovation center. They also met with MBA students from Tel Aviv University.

The MBA students are now preparing a business plan for bringing an Israeli company to Cincinnati or helping a Cincinnati business become established in Israel. The plan will be presented to business leaders in the community.

Shriberg and Rabbi Abie Ingber, of Xavier’s Center for Interfaith Community Engagement, offered two courses to undergraduate students from May 13-29—Interfaith in Israel: Abrahamic Religions Past and Present, and Doing Business in the Middle East: Israel. The 10 students explored social, political and economic realities of modern Israel and observed how people with distinct beliefs co-exist.

They attended pre-trip sessions to learn about Israel’s religious history and business environment, and they traveled to Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem, visiting businesses and seeing holy sites. In Netanya, Cincinnati’s sister city in Israel, they worked on a service project.

The undergraduate students will participate in an initiative with Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce to further Cincinnati’s business ties with Israel.

The students posted photos and blogs of their trips on Tumblr at interfaithxu.tumblr.com.