Young Jewish participants are the voice of the next generation of leaders
NYU student Sharyn Jackson didn't expect to learn about Africa on her recent trip to Israel. But the sophomore African history major was pleasantly surprised to meet fellow Jews from Africa - as well as India, Europe and the Americas - while attending the recent World Jewish Congress meeting in Jerusalem.
"I was thrilled to learn first-hand about communities in Africa," said NYU student Sharyn Jackson. "It was enlightening to meet proactive Jewish leaders sustaining and building a thriving community in different parts of the world."
Jackson was one of 17 students from North America, Uruguay and the former Soviet Union who recently represented young Jews at the World Jewish Congress meeting in Jerusalem. The students were nominated to participate in the free trip by their Hillels for their work as campus leaders. As Jewish student activists with previous experience in Israel they could participate in the discussions with a first-hand understanding of contemporary Jewish issues.
The World Jewish Congress, an international federation of Jewish communities and organizations, represents Jews from across the political spectrum and from all Jewish religious denominations. The WJC is headed by Hillel International Board of Governors Chairman Edgar M. Bronfman and serves as a diplomatic arm of the Jewish people to world governments and international organizations. The congress meets every five years in Jerusalem.
"It was so important that there was a Hillel delegation at the World Jewish Congress meeting," said University of Florida senior Ted Goldstein. "It showed that there is a group of up-and-coming Jewish leaders interested in world issues."
The students attended panel discussions with the world's top Jewish leaders, and heard speeches from dignitaries such as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and U. S. Ambassador Daniel C. Kurtzer. They participated in private question-and-answer sessions with WJC Chairman Edgar M. Bronfman and David Horowitz, editor of The Jerusalem Report
. In addition, students visited the Knesset and attended a lecture by Jonathan Saxe, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom.
"Students saw the bigger picture of the Jewish world and that Hillel now has an international focus," said Shira Hutt, Bittker Fellow at Hillel's International Center.
Student participants included: Ady Beitler, Uruguay Hillel; Jill Berkin, University of Pennsylvania; Davi Berstein, Yale University; Erik Bukstein, University of Michigan; Yoni Engelhart, University of Maryland, College Park; Tiffany Freeman, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Theodore Goldstein, University of Florida; Sharyn Jackson, New York University; Aaron Juda, University of Pittsburgh; Yulia Krelberg, Moscow Hillel; Elena Krentsel, Moscow Hillel; Noam Kutler, Rutgers University; Deborah Lapidus, Brown University; Devora Liss, University of California at Berkeley; Fabian Mandel, Uruguay Hillel; Gadi Schultz, Northeastern Illinois; and David Weisberg, University of California at San Diego.