Int'l teens participate in Jewish leadership program in Israel

Jewish teenagers from countries across Europe have arrived to Israel for Youth Leadership Program.

Jewish kids on leadership program in Israel 370 (photo credit: Courtesy of World ORT Kadima Mada.)
Jewish kids on leadership program in Israel 370
(photo credit: Courtesy of World ORT Kadima Mada.)
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.
The “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 field.
After completing the program, each participant will conduct a personal leadership project in his or her community back home.
Avi Ganon, 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.
“The program 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.
This summer’s 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.