New York—Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future has announced its “Counterpoint Israel” winter break program has doubled in size with the addition of four new “Winter Camps” in Kiryat Gat and the expansion of the existing program in Kiryat Malachi. It is a 10-day mission that aims to empower Israeli teens from low socio-economic backgrounds.
This year, Counterpoint Israel will serve 850 teens in seven student-run camps from January 9 – 19. Forty-two YU students from North America, Panama, and Colombia will guide the Israeli teens through a curriculum focused on English enrichment and self-exploration through art.
Kiva Rabinsky, Programs Director of the CJF’s Department of Service Learning and Experiential Education said, “In both its summer and winter camp formats, Counterpoint fosters an environment in which young, underprivileged Israeli teens feel loved, accomplished, and comfortable enough to open up to new people and experiences, while giving our YU students an opportunity to hone their leadership skills as they take on the roles of Jewish agents of change.”
With “Israel-Diaspora Relations” as the theme for the art projects and workshops, students at the Counterpoint camps will be encouraged to examine their Diaspora roots and develop a personal narrative based on their findings.
“Every student in Israel has roots in the Diaspora, but most of them have never had a chance to learn about where they come from. By taking this important introspective journey with counselors who are themselves from the Diaspora, the students will realize how much they have in common with Jews around the world,” said Aliza Abrams, the Director of YU’s CJF Department of Jewish Service Learning. “This exercise is sure to open the eyes of the counselors as well, helping them understand just how much teachers can learn from their students and the education process itself.”
When outside the classrooms, YU students will become active in their respective host communities, working with youth at risk and running workshops for the parents of high school dropouts. The students will also broaden their knowledge of the Ethiopian community in Israel by interacting with Ethiopians involved in a special farming project that promotes self-sufficiency.
The Counterpoint Israel “Winter Camps” will be run with support from the Jim Joseph Foundation and Repair the World. In addition to its Israel programming, the CJF will be running two other winter missions concurrently: “Jewish Life Coast to Coast,” an initiative that will analyze how individuals can become active and make a difference in North America’s diverse Jewish communities, operating this year in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, and Detroit; and a week-long service mission to the Ukraine.
The New Jersey students participating in the program are:
(1) Solomon Anapolle – Edison, NJ - Dimona
(2) Tehilla Brander – Teaneck, NJ - Dimona
(3) Robert Grad – Livingston, NJ - Kiryat Malachi
(4) Eli Hirt – Edison, NJ - Kiryat Malachi
(5) Eric Israeli - West Orange, NJ - Dimona
(6) Rebeca Kleiner – Teaneck, NJ - Kiryat Gat
(7) Romy Koenig – Bergenfield, NJ - Kiryat Malachi
(8) Jennifer Lebowitz - Fair Lawn, NJ - Kiryat Gat
(9) Tal Meiri – Elizabeth, NJ - Kiryat Gat
(10) Chaim Metzger – Teaneck, NJ - Kiryat Gat
(11) Rebecca Peyser – Teaneck, NJ - Kiryat Malachi
(12) Avi Seidman – Bergenfield, NJ - Kiryat Gat
(13) Etana Staiman – Teaneck, NJ - Kiryat Malachi
(14) Sam Weinstein – Teaneck, NJ - Kiryat Malachi
(15) Ari Zucker – Livingston, NJ - Kiryat Malachi