A group of high school students are chatting about summer travel. One student mentions that he will be spending the summer in Israel. The conversation grinds to a halt. Another student breaks the silence. “Why would you spend the summer in an apartheid state?” he asks. The student traveling to Israel shoots back that Israel is most definitely NOT an apartheid state….but he is unable to explain why.
Another student overhears the exchange and jumps into the conversation. He talks a little bit about the Israel he knows, its freedoms, its protection of minorities, and why the charge of apartheid is utterly wrong. He does not give a lecture, he does not raise his voice. The other students are not instantly convinced, but they are listening. The student defending Israel has a solid reputation, he is well respected by others. His words cannot be easily dismissed. In a moment the conversation moves on. But this defender of Israel has given his peers something to think about.
Hall of Fame NFL coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders aren’t born. They are made.”
All it takes is the will to be a leader, training, and practice. That is why the Israel Leadership Fellows Program will launch in September 2013.
This program is open to teens in grades 10-12 throughout the community. It is a collaboration between Talmud Torah of Minneapolis, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and the Israel Center of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation.
The goals are twofold: to train teens to be strong and capable advocates for Israel and to help them develop as leaders.
Perhaps you know someone who would be a good candidate for this program. If, so please spread the word!
Here’s how it will work: The “community at large will be the classroom”, combining a weekly class at Talmud Torah with hands-on experience outside class.
- Teens will learn first-hand Israel advocacy from a JCRC Speakers Bureau mentor. They’ll start by attending presentations on Israel given by their mentor at churches, schools, and other locations in the community. They’ll learn the material. Then, when they are ready, they will help their mentor present. That’s the difference between “practice” and “game-day”.
- They will learn from NCJW trainers how to maximize their influence and advocate successfully.
- Using the “Israel Inside/Out” curriculum from Jerusalem Online University they will learn the history of Israel, and how to use that knowledge to respond calmly and effectively to common accusations leveled against Israel.
- They’ll get to experience pro- and anti-Israel events taking place in the community.
- At the end of the year they will have gained valuable leadership skills, be publicly recognized at the JCRC Annual Event and will have a solid addition to their resumes.
The kick-off event is Wed. Sept. 11, 2013. The class begins Wed. Oct. 2, 2013 and meets weekly, 7-8 pm, at Talmud Torah of Minneapolis through May 2014. Space is definitely limited.
Anti-Israel activism is alive and well on many college campuses. Maybe you experienced it yourself when you were in college. Here are just two recent examples:
It takes strong leaders to bring a fair and sane perspective to the conversation about Israel. That is why we want to engage the next generation, to turn passion for Israel into action.
Don’t you wish a program like this existed when you were in high school? Therefore, won’t you help us spread the word?
For more information contact Sally Abrams. Or call 612-338-7916 or 612-677-2333.