In Uruguay, Hillel TV Will Give Youth the Tools for Israel Advocacy
Hillel TV, a new television show geared toward Israel Advocacy, is being developed in Montevideo by Hillel Uruguay. The show, which will air once a week late at night is intended for an audience of young people of diverse cultural backgrounds. The message will be comprised equally of Israel advocacy and local material relating to Hillel Uruguay and Montevideo. Currently in the pilot stage of development, the show is expected to begin airing in Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil next month. Hillel TV is part of a growing campaign of Israel advocacy in South America. The show’s creator, Odelia Barkin, views the program as essential at a time when people may be hesitant to travel to Israel.
Barkin, 26, an emissary of the Jewish Agency for Israel, serves as director of Israel programs at Hillel Uruguay. She hopes the show will “give information about Israeli culture and make Israel more vivid, more relevant.” Hillel TV will strive to “show that Israel is a multifaceted place that has something beyond the terrorist attacks and conflicts,” she added. Aimed at college-aged viewers, the show also will address campus issues. The news reports and other aspects of the show relating to Israeli culture are designed to empower “young Jewish students with information to fight back against the ignorant anti-Semitism that they encounter on their campuses,” Barkin said.
The show is based on the idea that “people have to know the facts in order to discern for themselves what they think about these contentious issues. With so much emotion on both sides of the conflict, it’s more important than ever to try to present a balanced perspective,” Barkin said. Barkin serves as the content editor of the show along with another Jewish Agency emissary, Gabriel Ben Tasgal. The local Jewish community is excited about the show. “I think it’s great,” said Marcelo Mirkin, 19. “I think young, college-aged people need a space like this to get informed. Everywhere we are surrounded by older voices that have interests that are pretty irrelevant to us. Hillel TV speaks to young people in a language that we understand and that is appealing to both Jews and non-Jews.
“We can get a different perspective from the one we see every night on the news,” he continued. ‘—‘ “Plus, it’s fun to watch, with lots of cute girls.” Enrique Dreisis, executive director of Hillel Uruguay — which serves not just college students but all Jews aged 18-30 — described the show as a “revolution in South America.”
“We have no antecedent for something like this/’ Dreisis said. “If we want to be influential in the modem world, especially in regard to Israel advocacy and Jewish culture, we have to use updated methods.” In addition to meaty issues such as current events in the Middle East, Hillel TV will have segments devoted to pop culture and Montevideo’s nightlife. In each weekly episode, time is allotted for audience-grabbing pieces. In the pilot, for example, two “reporters” attempt to seduce young, bikini-clad women by speaking to them in Hebrew. The show faces an uncertain future.
“Everyone working on the show is here in a voluntary capacity, and so we have a minimal budget. We have received initial support from the Jewish Agency, but are currently looking for more permanent funding,” Barkin said. “I really hope that this project will continue long after my time here,” she said. “We are trying to create something that will remain in the community for years to come.”