by Gordon Haas
The Community Relations Committee of Greater MetroWest NJ (CRC) is helping to provide a special leadership experience for Jewish high school juniors in Essex, Morris, Union, and Sussex counties.
We are making it possible for a select group to participate in Write On For Israel (WOFI), a two-year teen advocacy project of the Jewish Week that teaches students about Israel, Zionism, and the Arab-Israeli conflict and empowers them to become effective advocates through writing, broadcasting, and public speaking. The program also includes a trip to Israel. This looks amazing on one’s college application.
Today, anti-Israel activism is rampant on college campuses throughout the United States. Many academics, charismatic speakers, and influential student leaders present the Israeli-Palestinian situation in a one-sided manner, blaming the conflict on Israel and largely ignoring Palestinian terrorism, violence, and absence at the peace negotiating table.
Often, misinformation and unfounded accusations are seen as the norm. Israel is called an apartheid state and has been compared to the Nazis during anti-Israel conferences and rallies; divestment campaigns have been launched; Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conferences and other pro-Palestinian programs are being held on campus; annual “Israel Apartheid” weeks are planned; and so on. On some campuses, anti-Israel groups have attempted to intimidate pro-Israel advocates and heckle pro-Israel speakers. In addition, anti-Israel bias has increasingly been seen in the classroom.
The CRC, in collaboration with The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, wants to ensure that all Greater MetroWest students are inspired and prepared with effective skills when they begin their college experience. The Write On For Israel program does just that. Participants learn from top leaders in the country on how to be proactive and how to handle a wide range of situations that could occur on campus. Although not all students will encounter anti-Israel sentiment, we want to make certain that everyone can take pride in being pro-Israel.
As a result of generous funding, for which we are deeply appreciative, by Milly Iris and Family, The Cooperman Family Fund for a Jewish Future, Peter Feinberg, Amy Holtz, and Michael Simon, Greater MetroWest is able to underwrite the cost of participation in WOFI, which includes a trip to Israel. To give you a taste of the Israel experience, here is a blog written by the last year’s inaugural WOFI participants.
WOFI is only one of many initiatives the CRC is bringing to Federation. We are working with synagogue and teen advisors from different religious streams to engage teens in Israel advocacy and will be providing training and resources for programs throughout the year. We will also be sponsoring a training session for high school seniors in May. As you are preparing your teens to return to school, we ask that you consider also providing them with this amazing and life-changing experience.
To learn more, visit the WOFI website or contact the CRC at (973) 929-3087.