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Counting down the days until I travel to Israel with my Write On peers By Avi Shapira

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Avi Shapira

Write On Fellow

Evanston Township High School

Avi Shapira photo

I am a junior at Evanston Township High School. My love for all things relating to Israel (including politics, Hebrew, music, food and the IDF) was fostered throughout my years as a student at Chicago Jewish Day School as well as many special summers at Camp Ramah. In addition to my studies, I am passionate about sports. I’m a member of  the ETHS soccer team and ultimate frisbee team as well as a manager of the Varsity boys basketball team. Additionally, I am an active participant in the ETHS Israeli club, which provides educational activities related to Israeli cuisine, politics, Hebrew, music, dancing and holiday celebrations. 

JUF’s Write On for Israel (WOFI) program has helped me hone valuable life skills in leadership, communication and perseverance. My WOFI journey began last September at the orientation event at the JUF building in downtown Chicago where I first met my insightful WOFI cohort as well as the impressive mentors who are guiding us through this program. We listened to Carl Schrag, the program director and an excellent public speaker, as he outlined what the program would look like for us this year. He told us that WOFI will challenge us to wrestle with complex issues facing Israel and push us to write about complicated topics we’ve never explored before. He promised that Write On will be a rewarding experience that will ignite our desire to learn more about Israel in order to become effective Israel advocates in the future. 

Write On has more than delivered on that promise. During each monthly seminar, we are presented with multiple opportunities to read, write and discuss Israeli current events, politics and history through different activities such as mock game shows or creative presentations. These exercises have helped me hone my leadership and communication skills. Collaborative group work is an essential life skill and the only way to improve is to engage in group work and discussions, which we do consistently in Write On. 

The program presents a wide variety of perspectives on Israel, and engaging with these perspectives has taught me how to form my own opinions on these complex issues. The WOFI program has also provided me a unique opportunity to form friendships with a diverse group of Jewish teens from across Chicago and the suburbs, who I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet. Although my Write On experience has looked different than originally planned given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, I am counting down the days until I get to travel to Israel with my Write On peers, bringing all of our learning full circle. I hope future Write On participants will have the opportunity to explore the ideas, values and lessons that I have discovered through this valuable program.