For Gil Hoffman, the 26-year-old chief political correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, this year's Do The Write Thing program felt like coming full circle.
Do The Write Thing, sponsored by the Jewish Agency and the Hagshama department of World Zionist Organization, is a one-of-a-kind program bringing American Jewish college journalists to the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities each fall.
Six years ago, Hoffman was a journalism student at Northwestern University. As a participant in Do The Write Thing at the GA in Indianapolis in November 1997, he met and impressed the publisher of the Jerusalem Post, which led to an internship the following summer, and a full-time job at the paper a year later.
Last month, when the 22 college students taking part in this year's DTWT program at the GA visited the Jerusalem Post offices, Hoffman hosted their two-hour tour and discussion.
"It was very meaningful for me to be able to give back to Do The Write Thing, where I got my start," he said later, "and it was beautiful to see these people coming to Israel."
Miriam Shaviv, literary editor of the Post, participated in a panel with the college students and echoed Hoffman's feelings, noting that she, too, was a member of DTWT in '97.
Do The Write Thing, now in its 14th year, involves Jewish student journalists with the workings of Jewish communal life and Israel, offering them lectures, workshops and an opportunity to cover the GA proceedings for their campus or local community newspapers.
Participants come from campuses across the U.S. and Canada, and several of them this year spoke of the difficulties facing them as supporters of Israel at universities where the sentiment is strongly pro-Palestinian. During one discussion, a young woman from Montreal began to cry while talking about her frustration in the face of anti-Israel demonstrations and diatribes. In addition to hearing from a range of Israeli officials and journalists, this year's contingent visited security posts, held a memorial ceremony at the site of a bus suicide bombing, and, rounding out the full-circle theme, were the subject of a feature story in the Jerusalem Post - written by Gil Hoffman.