14 Feb Through Israel-Diaspora bonds, Kol Ami academies help young adults fulfill their dreams
Kol Ami are post-high school academies that bring together young Israelis and their Jewish peers from abroad. The objective: to strengthen the participants’ connection to the Jewish people. The curriculum includes personal growth and empowerment; learning and volunteering together to benefit Israeli society and each other; studying public diplomacy, Jewish texts, and the concept of a unified Jewish people. Most of the participants from abroad complete the program after three months, and continue their Israel experience as part of other programs. Israelis, and participants like Tara, however, continue at the academy for an additional 3 months to prepare for their military service.
In the U.S., Tara had studied at a Jewish school until age 12, but then attended a secular boarding school for high school. There, she encountered antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment. Tara says she responded by becoming a de facto “ambassador of Israel” at the school.
Tara does not regret attending the boarding school. Her time there has helped her understand Israel's importance and her role in relation to the Jewish state.
While it’s not easy being away from her parents, Tara says academy is “the perfect place for me to be me.” Israeli families welcome her into their homes for major Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, while the Israeli participants at Kol Ami help Tara with her Hebrew-language skills. She says her peers are “like brothers and sisters to me.”