28 Feb Encouraging Understanding of Jewish Peoplehood in Young Adults
Encouraging Understanding of Jewish Peoplehood in Young Adults
A Jewish Agency program is bringing together young Israelis and Jews from around the world who are on their gap years in Israel to discuss their Jewish realities and learn from one another.
When it comes to opinions on Israel and Judaism, from what it means to be Jewish to whether Jews should live in Israel or everywhere to how one’s Jewish identity informs their life and beyond, Israelis and Jews who live abroad have different perspectives. But discussing their unique views and learning more about each other is an important step to fostering strong and supportive ties. To help promote the idea of Jewish Peoplehood and the recognition of Jewish diversity as a central value, a Jewish Agency program in Israel is connecting participants in Pre-Army Academies (Mechinah), mainly Israeli youth, with those in various gap year Masa Israel Journey programs, comprised of youth from abroad.
This gap year accelerator program trains staff on how to implement peoplehood curricula and encourage discussions between these groups of young adults over the courses of several sessions.
For Rabbi Adam Drucker, the Director of Education at Young Judaea Israel, a Masa Israel Journey-supported program, the gap year accelerator program has provided Young Judaea Year Course participants with opportunities to develop meaningful connections with their Israeli peers.
“The program enables the US and Israeli teens to interact on multiple levels, from learning to cook meals together to discussing the pressing political issues affecting their lives,” shared Rabbi Drucker. “The breadth of opportunity has provided a strong link between the groups, and individuals therein, helping our teens to feel a part of Israeli society.”
“It’s been interesting to see our different programs and Israelis and Jews from abroad get to learn about each other,” said Horesh, an Israeli attending Mechinat Aderet-Ayanot, which is taking part in the accelerator program sessions. “It’s amazing to see how much we have in common even though we are from such different backgrounds.”
“It’s great to see how many young Jews there are and representing Jewish people from all over,” added Liad, from Zurich, Switzerland, who is also at Mechinat Aderet-Ayanot. “To be brought together like this is really special and powerful. I’m looking forward to more meetings.”
Eviatar Baksis, Vice President of Mechinat Galil Elion (Upper Galilee Leadership Institute), also feels his Mechinah participants are getting a lot out of the program.
“More than half of the Jewish people don’t live in Israel and the best way to get to know Jewish communities globally is to meet and talk with members face-to-face,” explained Eviatar. “By bringing these young adults together and making connections, it’s the start of lifelong friendships based on mutual respect and understanding. And since we also cultivate leadership skills here, we want participants to have experience in the broad Jewish world so they can be effective Jewish leaders.”
“Coming together to talk about our unique experiences and perspectives as Jews is really special and has made me think about what it means to be Jewish,” stated Noa, from Sunnyvale, California, who is enrolled at Mechinat Galil Elion and taking part in the gap year accelerator program. “We have a lot of opportunities to learn about Jewish identity and peoplehood and how Judaism is expressed in different communities, which is very cool.”