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Teens immersed in Israel’s culture, context
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Teens immersed in Israel’s culture, context

During the simulated “Chopped” competition, New Jersey students Maya Mehlman of Springfield, second from left, and Adi David of Livingston, far right, and other teammates present their hummus creation to the judges.
During the simulated “Chopped” competition, New Jersey students Maya Mehlman of Springfield, second from left, and Adi David of Livingston, far right, and other teammates present their hummus creation to the judges.

FOUR NEW Jersey teens were among 24 high school students who gathered on the Emory University campus in Atlanta Oct. 26-28 for the second Teen Israel Leadership Institute.

They are Maya Mehlman, a junior at Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield; Adi David, a senior at Livingston High School; and sophomores Sabrina Burns, Fort Lee High School, and Olivia Brown, Glen Rock High School.

Hosted by the Center for Israel Education and the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel — which emphasize documentary evidence in the study of Israel but do not advocate specific views — and supported in part by a grant from the Legacy Heritage Fund, the institute featured activities designed to expand students’ understanding of Israel and Zionism and help them plan educational programs in their hometowns.

The other teens came from Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, New York, Michigan, and California.

Kelly Cohen, director of JumpSpark, the Atlanta Jewish teens’ initiative, led a session in which the students developed program goals and outlines. Other activities, said CIE vice president Rich Walter, included the students’ forming a human timeline representing Zionist and Israeli events, a Knesset simulation, and a session on Israeli hip-hop. Among the experiential games played was a version of the Food Network show “Chopped,” in which six teams competed in a hummus-making contest.

CIE president Ken Stein led two sessions to help the teens confront the Israeli-Arab conflict; one program included the Abrahamic Reunion, a team of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze leaders who explored different perspectives on Israel’s independence.

The students joined more than 100 Emory students for Shabbat dinner and services at Emory’s Marcus Hillel Center.

The institute also addressed anti-Semitism, a topic that took on unexpected immediacy when the massacre occurred at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh while the teens were worshiping and studying at the Hillel.

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