The Diller Teen Fellows Graduation Ceremony

February 7, 2017 by Hayley Hadassin
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Members of Cohort 1 of the Australian Diller Teen Fellows leadership development program have celebrated their graduation.

The presentation evening was a highlight for the participants, the parents and the Zionist Federation of Australia.

The event was a culmination of their Diller Teen Fellows experience. Drew Feiglin, 15, from Leibler Yavneh College said: – “The past year and 2 months have provided some of the most  thought-provoking, life changing and memorable experiences of our lives. We all have learnt so much on this journey together and have grown a lot as a cohort.”

Romy Miller, 15, Mount Scopus College reminisced about where it all began: – “We all remember our first Diller workshop where we awkwardly raised our hands to talk and sat in a large circle during lunch, trying to engage and find common interests. While some people knew each other previously, it didn’t take long for the rest of us to bond.”

The Diller Teen Fellows program creates an international network of Jewish teenagers to serve as effective leaders. It is a program that the Zionist Federation of Australia is proud to have brought to Australia. Partnered with a similar group from the Golan region, the fellows undertake over a year of programs including workshops and shabbatonim locally. Key elements in the Diller year are when the fellows host their partner group in the Jewish community “mifgash” week and of course the international summer seminar, which sees similar groups from the Jewish diaspora and Israel joining together for three weeks in Israel..

The Diller Teen Fellows program was established in San Francisco in 1997 by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund. The first cohort of the program began its activity in San Francisco in January 1998. Since then, the program has expanded to include 32 participating communities across the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Australia, South America, Europe and Israel.

The parents too have played an integral part in this practice. Brigette Benary, mother of participant Jessy Benary-Belfer, said: – “This experience has offered Jessy the opportunity to expand his horizons, gather an extended family, evolve his leadership skills and contribute to the greater community.”

This program aims to upskill Jewish leaders of the future and give them the tools and mentorship to truly make a difference. The Melbourne Diller Teen Fellows have developed projects to engage with varying issues in society.

Maya Schwalb, King David: – “These past few months, the impact projects have allowed the fellows to explore our passions and delve into a world of community assistance and find solutions to some of the most common issues our society face.”

Ellie Golvan, Diller Teen Fellow Coordinator, ZFA was so proud of her first cohort: – “They took a chance to be true chalutzim, pioneers of Diller in Melbourne. And this was not easy, they had no one to compare experiences with, no one to check- ‘Is it really worth it?’ ‘Can I manage it with my studies?’ Or even, ‘is it good?’ They threw themselves into this program, no matter what other people thought. They have grown as communal leaders. Challenged themselves throughout and we know that the greater part is still to come. Diller Melbourne does not exist in a vacuum. They are part of a growing Diller network which exists around the Jewish world. They have truly shown the world what it means to be a Jew from Australia. Kol Hakavod.”

For further information contact Ellie Golvan dillertf@zfa.com.au.

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