Earlier this month, Hillel organized the Third Annual Latin American Convention for Israel in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with the special support of the Jewish Agency for Israel. More than 60 student leaders from Hillels in Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and Argentina gathered together for this Shabbaton to strengthen their commitment to Israel and share their thoughts about the situation in Israel.
Students could choose from three focus tracks for the seminar – tzedek (social justice), Israel advocacy and Israel business and economy. Each track included sessions about incorporating Israel into daily Hillel activities. Local shlichim (emissaries) and academic professors helped students understand the different complex aspects of Israel's history, politics and government. The keynote plenary session focuses on the centrality of Israel in our Jewish lives.
"The discussions about business clubs gave me new insights for our group and showed me that there is a way for us to expand it," said Rafael Salemo, who participated in the business and economy track.
Two special guests from the Jewish Agency for Israel joined the students for the weekend. Executive Director Moshe Vigdor and Regional Director Arie Abir both met with participants and inspired them to continue their support of Israel, describing the country as "the land of our roots and the modern country of our future." These JAFI representatives also spent time discussing the MASA program, which offers students long-term study-abroad opportunities in Israel.
"Before I didn't even think of studying for a semester in Israel. Today I am attentively reading the MASA pamphlet, looking for an interesting program for me," said Roberto Cohen, a conference participant from Hillel Rio de Janeiro.
"This trip was very important to me because we got the opportunity to know people from other Hillels in Latin America. It was fantastic to have a chance to socialize and also talk about important issues," said student Marcos Gorinstein.