Students "Elevate" their Leadership Skills at 2005 Charles Schusterman International Student Leaders Assembly
August 22, 2005Comments (0)
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Photo Highlights from the Conference
"I came in not expecting much. I left with more than I could imagine."
Though it was Michigan State University student Marc Saltzman who said those words, they could have been spoken by any one of the 300 students who joined him at last week's 2005 Charles Schusterman International Student Leaders Assembly at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, Ga. Coming from the United States, Canada, Israel, the United Kingdom, South America and the former Soviet Union, the participants fully embraced the annual conference's "elevate" theme. By challenging their peers and themselves to look at their campuses and communities in a new light, the students became inspired to return to their Hillels to create welcoming environments for Jewish students of all backgrounds.
Through skill-building workshops, Jewish learning sessions, small group discussions and one-on-one conversations, students shared experiences from their own campuses and learned new ways of thinking about leadership from professionals at Hillel and its partner agencies. Near the end of the six-day conference, Shabbat offered them time to reflect upon the busy week and celebrate the day of rest with new friends.
• Keynote addresses by Hillel President Avraham Infeld; Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor and director of the Rabbi Donald Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University; and Yavilah McCoy, the founder and director of Ayecha, an organization dedicated to Jewish diversity;
• The presentation of the findings from Hillel's recent student survey about Jewish campus life and a spirited discussion about their implications for Jewish student leaders and the future of the organization;
• The iPitch contest, led by Eytan Schwartz, the winner of the hit Israeli TV show "The Ambassador," in which students developed brief marketing campaigns to promote Israel. Students voted on six campaigns and chose Rachel Goykhman of Carnegie Mellon University as the winner;
• The participation of students from Ecuador and Belgium for the first time, as well as a panel discussion with international students about the similarities and differences in Jewish life in their communities;
• Discussions about Israel's disengagement from Gaza and the West Bank with the Israeli participants, who offered a firsthand perspective on a complex event;
• Meetings with leaders in the political and Jewish worlds, such as Yossi Abramowitz, a former student activist and now CEO of Jewish Family & Life; Daniel Landes, director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem; Susan Turnbull, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee; William Daroff, deputy executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition; Rabbi Julie Schwartz of Atlanta's Temple Emanu-El; Tova Hartman of Hebrew University's School of Education; Josh Neuman, editor and publisher of Heeb Magazine; Michael Dorf, founder and owner of the Knitting Factory and ArteXchange; and Elie Kaunfer, co-founder and leader of Kehilat Hadar in New York;
• The presentation of the 2005 Philip H. and Susan Rudd Cohen Student Exemplar of Excellence Awards to Shai Berdugo, Northeastern Illinois University; Rebecca Cyr, University of New Hampshire; Andy Green, University of California, Los Angeles; Emily Haimowitz, University of Pittsburgh; Ilya Hinsky, Moscow State Industrial University; Tafat Malka, Tel Aviv University; Noa Michaeli, University of South Florida; and David Steinberg, University of Illinois at Chicago;
• Training for the 2005-06 Grinspoon Israel Advocacy Interns, who promote Israel activities on 45 campuses across the United States;
• The 2005 Renaissance Institute, a special three-day seminar that enables Hillel lay leaders to interact with students and grapple with the issues now confronting young people on campuses around the world.