In an event that aimed to educate teens about the cultural, social, and economic underpinnings that make Israel stand as a beacon to all nations, 25 students attended an Israel Film Night organized by the Millburn High School Jewish Culture Club on Feb. 7. The evening began with a screening of the film Israel Inside, How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference followed by a discussion led by Sarit Catz, the Israel advocacy chair for the Community Relations Committee of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
I initiated the event with the goal of sharing how Israel, a small nation, has such a significant and positive impact on the world. I wanted to educate my fellow students on topics not often covered in the media. The event highlighted similarities between Israelis’ values and Americans’ values — among them liberty, democracy, and family. I thought, “If I can have some people walk away saying, ‘Wow, Israeli values are very similar to my values,’ I will be very happy.”
Also organizing the event were Galit Greenberg — like me, a MHS student and a Write On For Israel Greater MetroWest fellow — along with students Martin Krastev, Claire Singer, Justin Dower, and Lilly Blum.
Write On For Israel is a two-year teen advocacy program run by the Jewish Week in New York; fellows from Greater MetroWest are sponsored by the CRC. As part of the fellowship, which is made possible by a grant from the CRC and the federation’s Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, Galit and I are reaching out to teens to engage them in a Step Up For Israel education and advocacy effort. This includes inviting students to watch three of the Step Up For Israel movies series, earning a certificate from Jerusalem Online U.
Galit was instrumental in creating the promotional materials for the event. The club’s advisers, MHS math teacher Cheryl Becker and Ari Clark, head adviser at Southern NJ NCSY, provided support, and the NCSY youth group sponsored the food and beverages.
Catz led a discussion on Israeli culture and technology, including how economic interdependence in the Middle East could lead to peace, Israel’s contributions to the global community, how Israel is portrayed in the media, and the similarities between Israeli and American values.
She asked students how the film changed their view of Israel. Senior Fan Chung Hung said watching it “makes me think of Israel as part of the modern world.” Jeremy Campbell, a freshman, said he “finds it surprising that the media focuses on war and not the good that the Israeli people do. I feel this movie gave a lot of insight into the innovation and good that Israel does.”
The event provided a perspective on what being an Israeli really means. We took a step back from the political and military controversies reported by the media and looked at Israel’s culture and accomplishments.
The Write On For Israel MetroWest Fellows will sponsor another Step Up for Israel event for high school students: Crossing the Line will be shown on Sunday, March 17, at 11:30 a.m. at the Aidekman Jewish Community Campus in Whippany.
To learn more about Step Up for Israel, visit www.jfedgmw.org/sufi.