Empowering Brazil's Jewish Youth

Yeshiva University Students Travel to Sao Paulo as Part of the Center for the Jewish Future’s Counterpoint Brazil Program

A group of eight Yeshiva University students traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil from Aug. 3 through Aug. 18 as part of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) Counterpoint Brazil program—a service-learning initiative aimed at empowering the next generation of Jewish youth.

“Counterpoint empowers teens to discover their heritage, own their identity and kindle their passion for Judaism,” explained Aliza Abrams, assistant director of CJF’s department of service learning and experiential education. “The result is a joyous mixture of lasting friendships and Jewish pride.”

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Following the success of last year’s inaugural mission to Brazil over the Sukkot holdiay, the local Jewish community and Colegio Iavne—a Jewish day school in Sao Paulo—asked YU to return. Over the course of two weeks the Counterpoint team conducted several interactive Jewish identity seminars, workshops and a Shabbaton for local high school students, as well as a memorable Tisha B’ Av program. The group also met with local rabbis, lay leaders and members of the community.

“It is very important to show our students that it is possible to study in the university and in the Yeshiva at the same time,” said Carmia Kotler, Hebrew coordinator at Colegio Iavne. “This kind of experience can increase the possibility of our students returning to the community after university and adding a lot to Jewish community life.”

The Counterpoint program has existed for more than 35 years, affecting the lives of tens of thousands of Jewish teens worldwide in countries such as Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey and Israel. Undergraduates with experience in informal education serve as guides who create and run all the programming.

Led by Abrams, the Counterpoint Brazil team included YU students Adam Berman, Ezra Blaustein, Benjamin Blumenthal, Adina Borg-Blaustein, Nora Ellison, Rebekah Friedman, Zach Mammon and Elianna Pollak.

“The CJF runs programs in which a student has the opportunity to truly experience the methodology of experiential learning and see the results firsthand,” said Ellison, of San Diego, CA.

“My experience has been very positive and I am now considering a career in teaching,” said Pollak, a native of New York City who took part in a CJF program to Germany last year. “Informal education had not been my area of focus but I wanted to take this chance to experience a different and dynamic approach to education. After participating, my desire to go into the education world has only been strengthened.”

To learn more about the CJF and its upcoming programs visit www.yu.edu/cjf.

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