Ninth Annual Service Learning Program to Empower 300 Israeli Youth, Receive Support From Local Municipalities
The Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future’s (CJF) Counterpoint Israel Program, an immersive service-learning initiative that aims to empower the next generation of Israeli youth via an exciting, Jewish values-driven summer camp experience, has been retooled to maximize manpower efficiency and its impact on the Israeli communities it serves.
Over the last several years, undergraduate students from Yeshiva University ran four separate summer camps in the cities of Arad, Dimona, Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi concurrently. Basing itself on the North American Jewish camping system, this year’s program will offer two separate camp sessions, making it possible for YU students to focus their undivided attention and complete creativity on two cities at a time.
The YU students, natives of North America, Colombia and Chile, will run camps in Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi from June 29 – July 10 before relocating to Dimona and Arad for the second session, scheduled for July 13 – 24.
“We want to enhance the YU student experience by providing them with the opportunity to work for two consecutive camp sessions, enabling them to experiment with their teaching methods and educational approaches,” said Gila Rockman, co-director of Counterpoint Israel. “The socio-economic and educational backgrounds of the students in Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi differ greatly from their peers in Dimona and Arad, so our students are in for a unique opportunity.”
The municipalities of cities where Counterpoint operates see it as indispensable to their educational systems and are committed to contributing their own resources to ensure the program’s success. Each city makes a financial investment in the program.
“Counterpoint Israel has become such an integral part of the lives and Jewish identities of the teens in the towns in which we engage, so it is no wonder that the municipalities want to invest in their own futures,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, YU’s vice president for university and community life and the David Mitzner Dean of the CJF. “For years, the municipalities have watched as its high school youth flourished in our camps and realized that they needed to do something to make sure that this trend not only continues but reaches as many students as possible.”
“As in years past, we’ve seen that the Counterpoint Israel Program, through its English classes and workshops in arts, fashion, music, dance and sports, continuously improves the skills of the Israeli teens and promotes a positive self-image and traditional Jewish values,” said Sharon Blumenthal, who with her husband Avram has supported Counterpoint for seven years. “While visiting the program last year, it was gratifying to watch the YU students work with the Israeli teens and their families. Counterpoint provides these students with a glimpse into the great and challenging moments of Israeli life, and leaves them with a deep and profound appreciation of life in these communities.”
Counterpoint Israel is run with support from Ron Fisher and Lisa Rosenbaum/the Fisher Family Foundation, Repair the World, and the VIP Passover Yizkor Appeal; the Kiryat Gat program is run with additional support from Jennifer and Saul Burian and Doreen and Beryl Eckstein; the Kiryat Malachi Program is dedicated in the memory of Dr. Bernard W. Gamson; the Dimona program is run with additional support from Sharon and Avram Blumenthal; and the Arad program is run with additional support from the Jewish Federations of Central New Jersey and Delaware and Neal’s Fund in memory of Neal Dublinsky.