Throughout the year as Diller Teen fellows we focus on Jewish identity, leadership, peoplehood, pluralism, Tikkun Olam and Israel. Through the Diller workshops I learned when and how to step up to lead, and when to take a step back and listen. I have learned what contributes to my personal Jewish identity and how it can differ from others. However, I did not truly understand the power of our Jewish people until we hosted 20 teens from UJA Federation’s partner city of Eilat-Eilot for our Jewish Communities Mifgash, which took place from April 7th-17th. This was a truly special experience that I will never forget.
During the 10 days they spent in Toronto, the Israeli teens learned about Toronto and Jewish life in the Diaspora. In the evenings, we joined the Eilat-Eilot cohort and participated in various activities such as packaging Passover boxes, listening to a rabbi panel and jumping together at Sky Zone!
During these special 10 days, I hosted an Israeli fellow from Eilat. When my buddy arrived, she gave my family a gift, a beautiful Kiddish cup. Her family wrote a touching message about how Shabbat, a simple tradition, unites Jews from all over the world. At this moment I realized how special Diller is and how connected we are as a Jewish people. I learned that two girls from across the world could have so much in common, I feel so lucky to have my Israeli sister.
During our Shabbaton, we were given the task to start planning Community Week which is a week in the summer, during our three-week long Israel Summer Seminar where the Toronto fellows stay in Eilat-Eilot. We were given the freedom to choose the activities we would like to do. This task also comes with a lot of responsibility as we must consider the weather, budget, as well as logistics. I was amazed how seamlessly the Toronto and Eilat-Eilot fellows worked together despite the lack of time we have known each other. Even though I was working with new people, I felt completely comfortable to voice my own opinion.
This has been a phenomenal experience. I was able to learn new perspectives as well as create new friendships. I have never been to Israel before and I have never truly understood its place for Jews of the Diaspora. After having intellectual conversations with the fellows from Eilat-Eilot, I feel one step closer to understanding Israel's importance. I am excited to continue my learning about Israel and Jewish peoplehood this summer. I am already counting down the days until I get to see some of my best friends again during our Israel Summer Seminar.
I can’t recommend the Diller Teen Fellows program enough, and I encourage anyone going into grade 10 or 11 to consider this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s changed my life, made me feel more connected to my Jewish community and identity, and to Israel. I know it will have an incredible impact on you as well – so I hope you consider applying. Deadline is May 26th. You won't regret it!