Golan Heights teens meet Melbourne counterparts

April 30, 2016 by Hayley Hadassin
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Melbourne recently hosted twenty year 10 and 11 Diller Teen Fellows from Israel’s Golan Heights region.

Getting together

Getting together

It was the first Jewish Community mifgash (encounter) for Diller Teen Fellows Melbourne and the first ever official delegation from the Golan Heights. The Zionist Federation of Australia is proud that Melbourne is taking part in this ground breaking diaspora partnership with the Golan Heights.

The ten day visit exposed the Golan Fellows to Jewish life in Melbourne. They visited schools (both Jewish and non-Jewish,) various organisations, Synagogues and experienced life in the diaspora. A highlight of the trip was a visit to Emmy Monash where the Diller Teen Fellows had residents singing and dancing.

“For people who barely knew each other, we felt so comfortable just dancing together, laughing together and having the best fun,” said Mayan Gafin, 15 from Leibler Yavneh College.

During the recent visit the fellows created life long bonds that will continue to grow as the two groups work together over the coming months and year to create a community.

Romy Miller, 15 from Mount Scopus College said: – “Talking about the family traditions of Pesach and the Seder and seeing how similar my traditions are with Jews who live on the other side of the world was very meaningful to me. Discussing our passion for Israel and singing Hatikvah with Israelis really gave me a big sense of community with teens who live so far away.”

The fellows brought an indescribable ruach with them wherever they visited and they brought that energy back to the homes they were hosted in, each staying at a Melbourne counterparts abode.

Adira Steinman, Ofek Yerushalami, amis glass, Edward Lichtig and Moshe Grinfeld

Adira Steinman, Ofek Yerushalami, amis glass, Edward Lichtig and Moshe Grinfeld

Debbie Amar is a parent of a participant and she home hosted a Diller Teen Fellow from the Golan, she said: – “We enjoyed the mifgash so much and seeing the kids gain so much from every day is something that our whole family will take away from this experience. Also, it has really for the first time in aeons led us to talk as a family about Israel and our Jewish identity in a more personal way.”

A powerful moment occurred when meeting with a member of the Sudanese community; Huda Zakaris addressed the group from both cities and said: – “It is up to you, you are the next leaders.” This simple but poignant phrase reinforced that this group are the incoming leaders, not just of the Melbourne community, but, because they now have the opportunity to interact with young Jews from around the world, they are creating an international network, a network of leaders and they are each one of them.

The visit was also an opportunity for the Diller Teen Fellows to think about their identity, to connect with Israel through Israeli’s of the same age. As Jordan Kadish, 16 from Leibler Yavneh remarked: – “The seminar taught me as a Jew that we are so lucky to be Jewish because we communicate with the diaspora. I came to the realisation that just like us, the Israeli’s are teenagers and they see and experience similar enjoyment and heartache and that at the end of the day, we are and always will be Jewish and that is what will guide us and help us through all life experiences.”

Ellie Golvan is the Diller Teen Fellows coordinator at the ZFA, she has worked tirelessly and passionately to facilitate this initiative and said: – “It is incredible to see the power of face to face mifgashim, Jewish young adults from across the world meeting each other and learning from each other. It is these true life experiences that form ones’ identity.”

Diller Teen Fellows has branches in thirteen cities across the world with thirteen partnership cities or regions in Israel. In the two weeks leading up to Pesach all thirteen groups from Israel have travelled to their respective cities in the diaspora and shortly over 500 Jewish year 10s and 11s will come together from around the diaspora to Israel and participate in the Diller Teen Fellows Israel Summer Seminar.

The Zionist Federation of Australia is proud to be part of this world renowned program, which facilitates an international network of Jewish teenagers who are selected for their leadership skills and potential to grow into greater governance roles in the future.

Applications for Cohort #2 will open in July 2016 for current Year 9s and 10s. For more information contact Ellie Golvan, 9272 5618 or dillertf@zfa.com.au  .

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