350 Jewish teenagers from 16 communities arrive in Israel for summer seminar
(July 1, 2022 / JNS) A total of 350 Jewish teens from 16 communities in six countries will arrive in Israel on July 4 for a three-week seminar as part of a year-long Diller Teen Fellowship, an immersive leadership program for teenagers in Israel and around the world.
Teens come from Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, Central New Jersey, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Montreal, Melbourne, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Buenos Aires and the UK. Each community has an Israeli partner community, and soon after arriving in Israel, international teens will join Israeli teens who are also on the program.
Pittsburgh scholar Rachel Petro, 16, said: ‘What drew me to Diller was the opportunity to connect with my Jewish identity, as well as connect with kids my own age. and learn more about Jewish history. It’s such a cool opportunity to hear kids my age talk about things I’ve been through and think. It really feels like another family.
Participants are self-identified Jewish grade 10 and 11 students selected for their leadership potential. They are part of the programme’s international network of Jewish leaders, joining more than 6,500 Diller alumni worldwide.
Jen Smith, Executive Director of Programs at the Helen Diller Family Foundation, explained that after arriving in Israel, the teens will travel and learn about the country (July 4-8), experience a Shabbaton (July 8-10) and participate in Community Week (July 10-17) with teens from their partner communities in Israel, including the Upper Galilee, Haifa, Rishon Letzion, Karmiel/Misgav and Beersheva. The final leg of their visit to Israel is known as the World Congress (July 17-21) with the 350 international participants reuniting with the 350 Israeli participants for a week of global connection, exploration of the Jewish people and projects shared community service.
Throughout the year-long fellowship, Smith said, “The 700 teens from around the world participate in local workshops (mifgashim in Hebrew), where they learn about the diversity of their local Jewish community and peers; practical opportunities to lead tikkun olam initiatives, where they learn to lead through a Jewish lens; local weekend retreats (Shabbatons), where they experience Jewish pluralism in action; and active partnership ties between Israeli and Diaspora communities.