A weekend of Israel and leadership for teens at Emory University


September 14, 2018

Participants in the Teen Israel Leadership Institute held last April.

The Atlanta-based Center for Israel Education and the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel invite Jewish 10th- and 11th-graders to apply to attend the Teen Israel Leadership Institute during the weekend of Oct. 26 to 28.

The institute will feature a series of learning activities to expand students' knowledge and understanding of Israel and Zionism while they experience Jewish life on a college campus (Emory University) and forge friendships with peers from across the country.

The inaugural Teen Israel Leadership Institute was held in April and drew 24 Jewish teens from nine states plus Israel. The students learned about Israeli history, politics, innovation and culture, the Israeli-Arab conflict, and Zionism. They participated in Shabbat services and had Friday dinner at the Emory Hillel house. They visited the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. They discussed what Israel means to them and had a "Chopped"-style food competition with hummus.

Aliza Reinstein, 17, of Potomac, Md., now a senior at Wootton High School, said the hummus competition was her favorite part of a weekend that enriched her understanding of modern Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Hearing from both sides and different perspectives was one of the best things I got out of the program," she said, praising the impartial presentations and adding that the civil rights center provided an "overall human perspective."

Perhaps most important, the institute showed students how to apply their knowledge to the benefit of their home communities. The teens at the October retreat will work on educational projects they can bring back to their schools, synagogues or other organizations.

The cost of $100 for the three-day program includes double-occupancy lodging and kosher food. Travel subsidies of up to $200 are available.

The institute is part of a year-old, national CIE initiative to provide more impactful education on Israel to Jewish teens. Leading the program are CIE President and ISMI Director Ken Stein, who has taught the modern Middle East at Emory since 1977; CIE Vice President Rich Walter, a former director of Hebrew high schools in New Haven, Connecticut, and Providence, Rhode Island, who was the New England regional director of March of the Living for a decade; and Steve Kerbel, an educational consultant in the Washington area who spent 14 years as a synagogue education director.

Partners in the institute include Emory Hillel and the North American Association of Community & Congregational Hebrew High Schools. A grant from the Legacy Heritage Fund is supporting the program.

The deadline to apply for the institute is Oct. 1. Each applicant must describe a proposed Israel learning project-a course, a teen program for Yom HaAtzmaut, a film series, a website-and include a letter of support from a rabbi, an educator or another person who can explain why the student would be a good fit for the program.

More information and the online application can be found at israeled.org/teens.

"Everyone should apply," Aliza said. "I got so many awesome experiences out of it. It was amazing."

Find more comments from institute participants and their parents at israeled.org/educators/youth-and-teen-israel-enrichment-programs/youth-program-comments.


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