The Challenge of Getting Teens in Touch with Israel

June 12, 2017

Source: The Jewish Chronicle


One response has been the launch of Fast-Track, a one-year programme piloted this year among 20 sixth-formers. It involved intensive weekend sessions on Israeli history, culture, politics and society as well as a residential seminar in Israel. “It was a deliberate attempt to raise the intellectual ante,” says Michael Wegier, UJIA chief executive, “to take a cadre of people and work with them through all the deep, complex and inspirational elements of Israel. It was a rip-roaring success. We will expand it next year.

Fast Track is “not a hasbarah (public diplomacy) course,” he emphasises. “The best hasbarah comes from a position of deep knowledge and understanding, as opposed to slogans and political slanging-matches. We want to underpin young people’s ability to have a serious conversation around Israel with their peers, Jewish and non-Jewish, and that for us is the measure of success — if they are able to go on to campus and have serious discussions on Israel from a position of knowledge.” Fast Track is more about prompting questions than feeding answers. As Robin Moss, head of the UJIA’s centre for Israel engagement has written, “the days of adults telling young people that there is precisely one way to understand each issue are over”.

Meanwhile, UJIA is also increasing investment in schools — whether supporting a shinshin, a member of the Israeli scouts, as part of the informal Jewish education team, or a Yom Ha’atzmaut programme. For UJIA, the community’s main Israel-orientated organisation, Israel education is not about priming advocates with a ready-made party line but helping young people find a personal connection with the Jewish homeland.

Read more at The Jewish Chronicle.

Updated: Jun. 21, 2017