Chicago Diller Teen Fellows celebrate Jewish peoplehood in Israel

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Elliott Gold (left) and Lev Simon paint a mural at The Shoshana Absorption Center in Kiryat Gat as part of the Diller Teen Fellows three-week Israel Summer Seminar.

Chicago-area Diller Teen Fellows returned home July 24 after a three-week seminar in Israel designed to foster leadership development, Jewish identity-building, social action opportunities, and a deeper connection to Israel. 

The Israel Summer Seminar is a culmination of a year-long fellowship. It features three significant components: International Shabbaton, a networking and sharing opportunity for Diller Teen Fellows from around the world; Community Week, a chance for Chicago fellows to spend time in JUF's Partnership Together region of Kiryat Gat, Lachish and Shafir; and Diller Teen Fellows Global Congress, a gathering of Diller Teens from 32 communities across the globe to discuss Jewish peoplehood and identity.

"Being a part of Diller Teen Fellows and experiencing the Israel Summer Seminar changed my life," said Diller Teen Fellow Elliott Gold, a rising senior at Highland Park High School. "There is something so special about being able to converse with teens from all over the world about issues that are relevant to each and every one of us."

The International Shabbaton brings together fellows from 16 communities representing four continents. More than 250 teens created a network of Jewish leaders and learned about each other's respective Jewish communities while experiencing a pluralistic Shabbat in Jerusalem. 

Community Week is a platform for self-management, and provides an opportunity for fellows to work in partnership with their Israeli counterparts from JUF's Partnership Together region. The fellows have been working together since March to create a week-long experience dedicated to exploring Kiryat Gat, Lachish, and Shafir, and focused on the history, coexistence, culture, innovation and nature that exist in the region.

The seminar culminated in the Diller Teen Fellows Global Congress which brings together the Diller Teen Fellows from communities in North America, South Africa, Australia, South America, Europe, and Israel, to explore Jewish peoplehood and strengthen their network. Over the course of four days, fellows explored the six central values of the Diller program: Jewish identity, leadership, Israel, Jewish peoplehood, pluralism, and tikkun olam.

Our 16 fellows will continue the conversations they began in Israel, and over the next several months, the teens will conceive of tikkun olam (social action/ social justice) projects. They will identify a need in the community that they are passionate about, and will work together to make an impact. 

Follow Chicago Diller Teen Fellows on Facebook to stay up to date on these impact projects and all things Diller in Chicago. 


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