Twenty-eight Jewish teenagers from countries across Europe arrived in Israel
this week to take part in a special youth leadership training program for future
Jewish leaders in the Diaspora.
The program – a joint project of the
Israeli branch of World ORT, World ORT Kadima Mada; the Ministry for Jerusalem
and the Diaspora; and the European Jewish Congress – is being conducted in
cooperation with the Alexander Muss High School in Hod Hasharon.
“rigorously selected” participants, who are between the ages of 16 and 18, come
from countries including Belarus, Italy, Turkey, Russia, France, Germany,
Ireland, Norway, Poland, Greece, Ukraine, Latvia, Czech Republic, Serbia,
Slovakia, Bulgaria and Croatia.
The program, titled the “Youth Leadership
Program,” consists of three parts: a team-building week-long seminar in London, a
seminar in Strasbourg and about two weeks in Israel.
As part of their
visit in Israel, the teenagers will visit sites throughout the country,
including the Western Wall and the City of David, Masada, Mount Herzl, the
Negev, the Galilee and Tel Aviv.
They will also be studying topics such
as the history, tradition and heritage of the country, Zionist and biblical
leaders, the challenges facing Israel today, Israel’s relationship with the
Diaspora and the country’s hi-tech industry.
They will also be taught
leadership skills and tools for Israel advocacy by professionals in the
After completing the program, each participant will conduct a
personal leadership project in his or her community back home.
director of World ORT Kadima Mada, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the
core goal of the program is not only to train Jewish leaders but also to
“strengthen Israel advocacy abroad.”
“In the 10 days that they are here,
we want to give them the largest exposure possible on every aspect of life in
Israel and the reality of the country,” Ganon added.
Ganon also said that
in order to expose the teenagers to Israeli life, some cultural differences also
need to be addressed.
“For example, the army in Israel is not the army in
Russia,” he explained, “Our army is the people’s army. Soldiers serve because
they have a legal obligation – but also a moral obligation – to do so. In other
countries, the army is a voluntary thing. So we need to make sure that we bridge
the knowledge gaps and adapt to their cultures as well.
gives us, as a country, a tool for advocacy,” he explained, “These kids, who are
very intelligent, definitely have the potential to lead their communities back
home and better explain to people what happens in Israel.
“They are, in
fact, ambassadors who can help our country,” Ganon said.
group is the second that the program has brought to Israel. The first group,
which also consisted of 28 teenagers, visited Israel about two years ago.
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