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Students on CJF Winter Mission Explore Justice and Social Justice in Israel

Tucked away in an office in South Tel Aviv, a group of unlikely bedfellows engaged in some weighty conversation. Stav Shafir, one of the most prominent leaders of the social protest movement that shook up Israel this past summer and a group of Stern College for Women students of Yeshiva University in New York talked tachlis [substance] about social justice.

YU's Devorah Deutsch, center, with a student from the Reali School on the Tzedek V'Tzedaka mission.

“This wasn’t a protest just about housing – housing was the symbol for all of our social services,” explained the 26-year-old Shafir as she delved into the issues that prompted hundreds of thousands of Israelis of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities to demonstrate for a more just society.

This encounter was just one stop on a multi-tiered, eight-day winter break Israel trip for Yeshiva University undergraduates run by the University’s Center for the Jewish Future. Titled, “Tzedek V’Tzedakah,” the mission of two separate groups of 15 men and 15 women explored concepts of justice and social justice in a modern democratic Jewish State.

Through meetings with everyone from top Israeli rabbis and government officials to prison inmates and social activists, these January missions gave students a chance to examine such charged topics as corporate social responsibility and the challenges Israel faces in enforcing justice while being bound to both Jewish law and democratic Western values.

The Tzedek V’Tzedakah groups did not shy away from controversial issues, either. A special panel of haredi and non-haredi residents of Beit Shemesh was added to the itinerary in the aftermath of the violence there against girls at the hands of extremists. Tzedek V’Tzedakah is sponsored in part by the Jim Joseph Foundation.

“Every year we send hundreds of students on various types of experiential and service learning trips around the world,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF). “Our goal is for them to realize how they can be agents of change.” Read full article in eJewishPhilanthropy