DALLAS — More than 150 teens gathered on Dec. 9 at the Aaron Family JCC for the first-ever Community Teen Havdalah hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
The program began with a Havdalah service and singing led by the beloved-by-teens music team of Eric and Happie (Eric Hunker and Happie Hoffman), followed by an Israel education and advocacy training led by Rayna Exelbierd, Southeast High School Coordinator of StandWithUs, and Zachary Schaffer, Community Strategy Associate of the Israel Action Network.
The program, titled Israel on Campus: A Reality Check, is an interactive Israel advocacy program that follows modeled civil discourse on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and showcases effective and ineffective conversational skills. Event partners included all local synagogues, Jewish youth groups, StandWithUs and the Israel Action Network of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Following welcome remarks by JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin, teens Noga Even, a member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council and a StandWithUs intern, and Zach Denn, also a member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council, introduced Eric and Happie to lead the Havdalah service. After Havdalah, Exelbierd and Schaffer presented tools and strategies for how to participate in conversations about Israel with someone who may hold differing beliefs. Part of the program involved using a small group of teens role playing with the trainers.
“The Community Teen Havdalah was a really special night to gain some knowledge and skills related to Israel. I’m glad so many teens joined us, and am grateful to our Jewish community for putting together this kind of event for teens,” Noga said.
The evening’s program concluded with a song session led by Eric and Happie while teens enjoyed a kosher candy bar and green-screen photo booth, with backgrounds of Israel. Custom-made stadium seat cushions were handed out as free giveaways to the teens in attendance.
“It was so nice to be a part of the Community Teen Havdalah event. Happie and Eric led a beautiful Havdalah service, and I learned a lot from the Israel advocacy trainers about how to better respond to a potentially difficult conversation about Israel on campus, said Sophia Fineberg, member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council and Shlicha of BBYO’s North Texas-Oklahoma Regional Board.
The Jewish Federation’s High School Impact Committee and JCRC staff planned and prepared for the event with feedback from its Teen Advisory Council. Members of the 2017-18 JCRC Teen Advisory Council are Maayan Abouzaglo, Alec Becker, Rachel Berkowitz, Zach Denn, Noga Even, Sophia Fineberg, Mikayla Gothard, Chandler Kassel, Avery Klatsky, Ben Levkovich, Alexandria (Lexi) Lewis, Eli Minsky, Robert Roseman and Ross Rubin.
“This event is part of a larger and critical initiative in our community to engage our teens in conversations about Israel. We are committed to educating and empowering our youth regarding the complexities of the issues and provide the resources so that they can do their part to support a strong and vibrant Jewish State of Israel. I am grateful for the dedication and diligence of our lay leadership and JCRC staff for putting together such a meaningful event for our teens,” remarked Rubin.
Part of the mission of the Federation/JCRC Combatting BDS Committee is to educate local teens about responding to potential BDS and anti-Israel activity on campus. To that end, the High School Impact Sub-Committee, chaired by Ruthy Rosenberg and Melanie Pinker, continues to engage local teens in educational programming about Israel.
For more information about the JCRC and the Federation’s Combatting BDS Initiative, please visit www.jewishdallas.org/JCRC, call 214-615-5293 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
JCRC Community Teen Havdalah
- Anshai Torah
- Adat Chaverim
- Beth-El Ft. Worth — Camp Impact
- Congregation Beth Torah
- Congregation Shaare Tefilla
- Congregation Shearith Israel
- Congregation Kol Ami
- Chabad of Plano
- Israel Action Network of Jewish Federations of North America
- The JCC
- Jewish Student Union (JSU)
- Nishmat Am
- Shir Tikvah
- StandWithUs Texas
- Temple Shalom
- Temple Emanu-El
- Tiferet Israel Congregation
- URJ Greene Family Camp
- Yavneh Academy
The event was made possible by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.