StandWithUs names 7 area teens as interns for ‘21-‘22

Staff Report

Seven Dallas-area teens will serve among the 2021-2022 StandWithUs Kenneth Leventhal High School Interns. The students are Jordyn Behr (Akiba Yavneh Academy), daughter of Heather and David Behr; Megan Daniels (Parish Episcopal School), daughter of Eddy and Taryn Daniels; Yael Fine (Plano West Senior High School), daughter of Suzanne and Eric Fine; Josh Rajunov (Frisco Wakeland High School), son of Debbie and Manuel Rajunov; Kayla Rutner (Greenhill School), daughter of Marilyn and Michael Rutner; Leah Weisglass (Plano West Senior High School), daughter of Ivonne and Jonathan Weisglass; and Ephraim Weiss (Akiba Yavneh Academy), son of Simma and Shelley Weiss.

Created in 2012, the internship selects and trains student leaders from high schools throughout North America to educate about Israel at their schools and to combat antisemitism. One hundred fifty Leventhal Interns were selected for the 2021-22 year.    

“I applied to help stop antisemitism in my non-Jewish school and community, and I am so excited to work with my fellow StandWithUs interns to create meaningful change and do our part in tikkun olam,” said Megan Daniels, a senior.

Added Leah Weisglass, a senior, “I applied to be a Leventhal Intern because I see the misrepresentation of facts in schools and elsewhere concerning Israel, and I wanted to be a part of an organization that brings awareness to this and challenges misinformation.”

During the two-semester program, Leventhal Interns, who are juniors and seniors, identify the educational needs at their schools as they pertain to Israel, whether they are rooted in misinformation or disinformation. Then, working with their StandWithUs regional high school coordinator, they develop a vision to meet those needs through relevant and practical educational programming.   

They also receive the tools to identify antisemitism — whether it is rooted in ignorance or outright hatred — and to address and combat it, including an understanding of their legal rights. 

“StandWithUs provides many resources to help teach teens about the contemporary issues surrounding Jews and Israel, within a historical context,” said Ephraim Weiss, a senior. “I look forward to the conferences and networking with other Jewish students and forming a leadership role within our community and preparing for the same at college.”

The interns recently completed their virtual August conference that prepares them for the school year. The theme was “Foundations,” as they cultivated a foundational level of knowledge and a leadership tool kit to kick off the internship. The students developed a well-rounded yet nuanced framework to understand Israel’s story and the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

“Despite being separated by a screen, through the StandWithUs training I was able to make many lasting connections and hear so many different perspectives from people who want to make a difference,” said Kayla Rutner, a senior. “I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to spread awareness about Judaism and Israel as well as give others the confidence to fight antisemitism.”

The Leventhal Interns also learned to identify antisemitism, discussed strategies for implementing an educational and/or legal response and received training from the StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department and Center for Combating Antisemitism. In regional breakouts, they had leadership and professional development workshops and conversations. 

“The internship is educating me about Israel and how to combat the antisemitism and misinformation about the Arab-Israeli conflict I will have to face on the college campus and possibly in my day-to-day life,” said Jordyn Behr, a senior. 

Junior Josh Rajunov was enthusiastic about his training thus far. “We have been learning so much and really diving deep into Israeli history and education as well as resources on how to combat antisemitism.”

The Leventhal Interns will participate in the StandWithUs “International Conference: Israel in Focus” in January.

Kate Chavez continues as the StandWithUs national associate director of High School Affairs working with the Texas Leventhal Interns. Liz Tsai is executive director of High School Affairs.

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