Partnership operated programs by Living Bridge Coordinator & Madrich in Israel (Ayelet Kaufman & Bat El Trabelsi) and her colleagues Jessica, Jamie, Sam and the Young Shaliach in PB.
The partnership implements a series of independent programs for youth in both communities, which are developmentally connected:
- Gesher Chai – a group of youth from Palm Beach arrives for a month long visit in Israel, out of which one week of visiting and learning in the partnership region. During that week they are hosted by the Israeli Ambassadors and participate in all activities together. Upon their return to PB, GC become the Young Ambassadors who go through leadership sessions and prepare to host the Israeli Ambassadors in their community.
- Ambassadors - a group of carefully chosen youth leaders from the region, who participate in a 10 months leadership course. The group travels to PB and together with the American Ambassadors they continue their journey, learning about Zionism, Jewish values and leadership. The program on both sides of the ocean strengthens Jewish identity, expands on the concept of pluralism and develops a sense of Peoplehood among the participants. It also provides teens with a track to get certified to work as Madrichim (counselors) in the community.
- Bonim Fellows - This is an elite program, limited to a maximum of ten American participants, hosted by graduates of the Ambassadors in Israel. Through intense community service and leadership development programming, Bonim Fellows build relationships between American and Israeli teens based on the ideals of tikun olam, g’milut Chasidim, and kol yisrael. The 10 days the joint Bonim group spend together in the region combines Jewish learning, community service around a specific project, and some nature and hikes.
Program update July 2011 – summer 2012:
A large group of Gesher Chai youth were hosted in the region last summer by their Israeli peers (a total of more than 60 youth), and as always, testified that their time in the region was the highlight of their trip. The home hospitality, the personal connection, the community service together with the special spiritual atmosphere of Zfat and the Galilee – makes the time together special. This summer we are expecting a smaller group of American GC, however they will stay in the region for 10 days rather than 7.
The Israeli Ambassadors had a ten months leadership development series of sessions and seminars right until their trip to PB. In the Partnering community they volunteered in various places (Morse Centre for the elderly, Jewish schools), learned about the diversity of Jewish lifestyle in the Diaspora and the different affiliations, met with community leaders and continued their joyful way of strengthening their friendship with their peers. Upon their arrival back in Tzahar, they begun working towards their Tikun Olam project with the Bonim Fellows in summer of 2012 – an innovative summer camp for Youth Futures children, led by the youth themselves.
The Bonim Fellows spent 10 days with their Israeli peers working on rehabilitating a youth centre in Hazor Haglilit, which was in a very poor condition and could not serve the community. They also had a seminar in Jerusalem and a spiritual Shabbat in Zfat, along daily learning sessions and exploration of the nature and heritage sites in the Galilee. This year, our Bonim have a plan to develop and implement a unique Tikun Olam project: develop and lead a summer camp for children at risk of our Youth Futures program. In addition to typical content of a Jewish summer camp, this camp will also assist children and their trustees to improve their English skills.
In the past year, both on Gesher Chai and on Bonim, the youth have also contributed to Federation’s campaign efforts by holding a “thank-a-thon” from the Tzahar region. This initiative helped the Israeli and the American teens to understand the mechanism of funding of Jewish life, and appreciate it.
Adherence to the Partnership vision and strategy:
The young leadership programs are an expression for realization of the Partnership new vision and strategy. The continuum of programs deals with building of a Jewish future, strengthening Jewish identity, forming of personal connections and experiences in the region, undergoing a substantial process of leadership development in learning and in practice. These teens are the leaders of tomorrow.
The program invests in depth as well as in quantity. An average of 60 youth go though the cycle of programs. There is a definite need to engage the families as those families are “silent” supporters of the partnership, which we should recruit and involve, in addition to their children.
The projects are implemented directly by the partnership and the programs have a reputation of excellence. Gesher Chai is running for 16 years, Ambassadors – 12, and this year is the 5th year for our Bonim Fellows program.