Source: Makom Israel Blog
Sarah Mali, Director of Israel Engagement at the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, aims to highlight a program that offers a new paradigm for Jewish Peoplehood engagement locally in North America - The UJA MAKOM Young Emissary Program in Toronto.
The program, funded by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and the Jewish Agency for Israel, began as a capacity building exercise to strengthen synagogues by providing them with pre-army Israeli youth to run informal Jewish and Israel programming on a shared cost basis. It grew from two young emissaries reaching three participating institutions, to fourteen reaching twenty-five institutions: day schools, synagogues, youth groups and summer camps, creating some of the strongest and most vibrant relationships between Federation and its agencies – and agencies with each other – that exist today.
Structurally, each pair of young emissaries that come for a year at a time works in a day school and synagogue, as informal Israel educators, with the year culminating in their taking on counselor positions at one of several Jewish summer camps. The young emissaries are hosted by families associated with their host institutions and each live with three families throughout the year.
An average young emissary engages with over 250 students around Israel and Jewish identity matters on a weekly basis. This involvement includes creative programming which is integrated into the teacher’s lesson plans, recess activities, student council projects and class or school ceremonies and celebrations. Beyond these organized encounters, each young emissary touches informally another 200 young people weekly.
There is an unexpected reciprocity that develops out of this program. Young Emissaries come to give but end up receiving a whole lot too and, as a result, so does the State of Israel. By the summer of 2012 there will be 44 Toronto-based young emissary alumni in Israel with new and unique understandings about the Jewish People, about Judaism and about human potential markedly different from their Israeli peers.
Read the entire post with reflection and meaningful anecdotes on the Makom Israel Blog.