SOUTH FLORIDA STUDENTS TRAIN TO BE PRO-ISRAEL LEADERS
Last month in Los Angeles, the Israel education organization StandWithUs hosted separate trainings for selected North American college and high school students to prepare them to be pro-Israel advocates on their campuses for this 2018-19 school year.
Among these high school and college students who attended the trainings were those from Florida, including Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade county schools.
One of the programs the students trained for is the year-long SWU Emerson Fellowship, which selects and trains student leaders from 90 universities throughout North America. Fellows run programs that bring Israel's message to their campuses and also combat BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) campaigns.
Jacob Covas of Florida International University said, “I chose to do the Emerson Fellowship because I have a deep passion for educating people.”
“The Emerson Fellowship was the only program of its kind, one which offered not only the resources of an organization like StandWithUs, but also the network of students who were also passionate about educating.”
Austin Barr of the University of South Florida said “After attending the conference I learned a lot of amazing skill and information about Israel I did not know before.”
Other Emerson Fellow students from the state include Shannon Berzack from the University of Miami and Sophy Bohbot from Florida Atlantic University.
Talia Lerner, SWU Southeast Campus Coordinator, said, “Being from South Florida, I couldn't be prouder of the work the students are doing.”
High school students trained for the year-long SWU High School Internship program that prepares students for the challenges they may face in college and the community regarding Israel. Students begin Israel clubs in their school, bring educational programming and write articles.
Rayna Rose Exelbierd, SWU Southeast High School director, said, ”Our teen leaders are empowered to make a difference in their schools and communities.”
One of these high school interns is Einav Cohen, of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, who was born in Israel but moved to Parkland when she was young.
“I joined the Internship because personally, the only connection to Israel in the states was my immediate family and our Israeli family friends, but I have always felt the need to express my love for Israel.”
Cohen noted that after the Feb. 14 shooting tragedy at her school in which 17 people died, her community has grown closer and more compassionate towards each other.
“With the resources available to me from StandWithUs, I am excited to create programs that aim to not only spread the positivity about Israel, but also bring people together while discussing the issues.”
Another high school intern, Sydney Freedman of Katz Yeshiva High School of South Florida in Boca Raton said, “I got involved to not only take my Israel education to the next level, but also to convert it into tangible results that educate the greater community. “
High school intern Jessica Seidl of NSU University School in Davie, who noted that her brother participated in this internship a few years ago, said, “I hope to educate others in my community about Israel and what it stands for.”
“Moreover, I hope to create opportunities for my peers to learn about and fall in with Israel as I did.”
Hope Lerman of William T. Dywer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, said, “I went to a Jewish day school until eighth grade and now attend a public school.”
“I see a large difference in how people actually think than when I was living in a Jewish bubble. I wanted to learn how to educate people.“
Lexi Ginsberg, of Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, said regarding the recent training conference, “I learned a great deal about the Middle East.”
“I also learned how to be a leader of my community by using the connections I made at the conference as a resource and a support system.“
Daniella Yablonka, of Design and Architecture Senior High School in Miami, said, regarding the training, “I learned how to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism with great techniques and understanding.”
SWU also had a training for its 2018-19 Hispanic Emerson Fellowship that includes Corina Cater of South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary in Deerfield Beach.
“I joined the fellowship to be connected to a larger community of support to learn to better communicate a pro-Israel message to college students and others in my city,” Cater said.
Sebastain Parra, SWU’s Hispanic Outreach coordinator, said, “The story of Israel is the history of the Jewish people overcoming all of their challenges.”
“We know that this inspiring story resonates with Hispanic Christians and we simply want to help them bring this story to their communities."