I am now closing a full circle as a Diller Teen Fellow Coordinator. I have been fortunate enough to work with an incredible group of teens that understand the importance of Diaspora-Israel relations. Not only were these extraordinary teens able to build bridges with their peers in Eilat-Eilot Israel, they were also able to meet and interact with different facets of our Jewish community here in Toronto as they themselves represent the many faces of our community.
At the beginning of July we will be leaving for 3 weeks in Israel, exploring the many faces of Israel. From an LGBTQ Tour in Tel-Aviv, to meeting with Israeli entrepreneurs, from a tour of Tzfat, to spending Shabbat in Akko, the Diller Teen Fellows will truly be exposed to Israeli society. They will be able to grapple with the idea of belonging to a Jewish people while learning about and experiencing the State of Israel.
During international congress, a gathering of all global 700 and some Diller Teen Fellows, our Toronto Diller Teen Fellows will interact with teens from South Africa, Argentina, the UK, Australia, the United States and Israel. My hope is that they will be able to learn from these communities about what makes them unique and what makes them similar to us in Toronto.
I myself was fortunate enough to travel with Diller Teen Fellows to México City for a coordinators seminar. Not only did I learn about the Mexican Jewish community, it’s struggles and strengths, I also got to do so with my peers, from all over the world, representing different views but one people. Looking form the outside in, I learnt about a community that was separated by origin – Syrian Jews and Ashkenazi Jews. We were hosted at the Centro Deportivo Israelita and interacted with the young adults who hope to be able to change this separation. This visit truly inspired me to think of barriers that we have in our Jewish world today.
When I reflect back on this year, my wish for the Diller teens is to be able to see what I see; that we, as the Jewish community are simply different spots of light spread all around the globe. We may be separated by ideologies, world views, religious observance and denomination, but that together with open conversation and acceptance we can shine brighter.
Diller Teen Fellows Coordinator