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Young NJ leaders train as Birthright Fellows
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Young NJ leaders train as Birthright Fellows

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Five local young people were among the nearly 100 Taglit Fellows who convened last month in San Diego for four days of learning with experts in Jewish, Israel, and experiential education. 

“Taglit Fellows” is the professional development program launched in 2014 by Taglit-Birthright Israel and implemented in partnership with the iCenter for Israel Education. The program trains aspiring Jewish educators and leaders looking to staff Taglit-Birthright Israel trips. 

The fellows were selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants. The four-day seminar included interactive trainings and in-depth conversations with Israel educators focusing on a range of areas, including effective storytelling, how to create ritual moments with personal meaning; and experiential education in diverse settings. 

The Maimonides Fund is funding the program through a $4 million grant over the next six years. Taglit Fellows accepts 100 participants, age 22 and above, into the program every six months. 

Five fellows from Cohort 2 are affiliated with the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ community: Hadar Cohen of Livingston, currently an electrical engineering student at The Cooper Union; Jessica Siskind, also from Livingston, who serves as the North American coordinator for the New York-based Onward Israel; Lindsay Rothschild Danziger of Short Hills, a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati; Kimberly Schwartzman, who lives in West Orange and works at the Jewish Federation of Northern NJ; and Pamela Slifer of Millburn, who works at Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City. 

Another fellow, Joshua Ull, from Edison in Middlesex County, is a student at Muhlenberg College and is affiliated with the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ community.

“Taglit-Birthright Israel constantly reminds me to appreciate the beauty in the diversity of the Jewish people and of Israel, and the richness of Jewish tradition,” said Cohen. “The Taglit Fellows seminar was filled with vibrant energy created by committed and caring educators and fellows. 

“I am excited to put the new skills and tools I learned to use on future Birthright Israel trips, and I am grateful to be able to inspire connections to Israel, our shared history and culture.” 

Said Slifer: “The tools I now have will help me convey the love for, and connection to, Israel that I have felt my whole life, as well as connect participants to their Jewish communities back at home.”

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