Youth Participate in Emerging Leadership Seminar in the Galilee

Monday, August 05, 2019

"It teaches very important lessons for life, such as how to accept the other.”
- Avigail Margolis, young immigrant from the Ukraine
 

Over 130 members of KKL-JNF’s Emerging Leadership program for youth in Israel’s outlying communities participated in a 3-day seminar in the Galilee.
Wednesday, July 30, 2019 - The excitement among the Emerging Leadership participants as they stepped off the bus in Akko was palpable. This was the last day of their three-day seminar dedicated to the subject of “Settlement in the Galilee”. The program is run by KKL-JNF's Education and Community Division.
 
Their KKL-JNF guide Arnon Moshe explained that the purpose of this particular tour was to show the young participants how the ancient city has changed over time and how it is positioning itself today in order to draw people in the coming years either to live there or just to visit.
 
“I have no doubt that after this visit they will know more about Akko than most of their peers,” he said.
 
Manhigut Baderech [Emerging Leadership] is a program designed to empower young teenagers with leadership abilities living in peripheral communities. It focuses on nurturing community and social development. Throughout the year, program participants take part in weekly meetings and four 3-day seminars that focus on the key KKL-JNF values of Zionism, sustainability and social responsibility.
 
As the young participants walked through the streets of the bustling coastal city, they learnt about its rich history.
 
“After being influenced by periods dominated by Romans, then Ottomans, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Byzantines, and the British, today Akko is fittingly home to a brilliantly coexistent mixed population of Jews, Christians, and Muslims”, Arnon Moshe explained.
 
In the Old City, the young participants toured the Knights Hall, a magnificent complex built about 900 years ago during the Crusader Period. As they walked through its cavernous stone arches, they could see excavated artifacts on display and learn via interactive multimedia stations.
Emerging Leadership program director Nissim Magnaji said that over 40% of the participants were new immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, including some still learning how to converse in Hebrew. “We have a Russian-speaking guide for that group. Our aim is to acquaint the new immigrants with Israeli culture, heritage, and roots and to strengthen their ties with Israeli society.”
 
KKL-JNF Russian-speaking guide Vitaly Meroz is certain that this program will catapult immigrant youngsters into Israeli mainstream society.
“I have been a guide on this program for two years and I see what an influence it has”, he said. “In the beginning, we want them to feel and understand their connection to this land, that they have come home.” Vitaly immigrated to Israel from Uzbekistan in the 1990s, and is currently completing an engineering degree at Ben Gurion University. “When I arrived at the age of 13 with my family, there were no programs like this and I know exactly how difficult it is for an immigrant kid to integrate.”
 
Ukrainian-born Milana Mirenburg, who moved to Ashdod with her family four years ago, said she feels privileged to be part of the group. “My parents pushed me to take part and I am happy that they did. They wanted me to know about Israel. I am interested in history and much of the knowledge I get here helps me with my bagrut (matriculation) and with the essay I am writing about Israel.”
 
One group of youngsters crammed into the tiny Ramchal Synagogue, named after named after famed Sephardic Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, located just outside the colorful Akko Market. The caretaker of the facility told them that the original synagogue, which was much bigger, was taken over by the Ottomans in the 18th century, who built a mosque in its place. 
 
The next stop on the tour was at Rosh Hanikra, situated at Israel’s northwestern tip on the border with Lebanon. This is the only point in Israel where high cliffs meet the sea. A cable car at the site takes visitors into the fascinating grottos situated far below. However, as usual, the queue was long and the youngsters had a lengthy wait for their cable car ride. They utilized the time to rehearse the skits and songs they were due to perform later at the closing ceremony.
 
Fifteen-year-old Michal Ayubi from Moshav Zrahya just south of Kiryat Malachi said that she has been a member of the leadership group for 2 years. “It’s been a lot of fun. I have learned so much and made many new friends. We go to places one would never get to if not for KKL-JNF.  I have been in other youth movements but nothing matches this for learning, for travel, and for fun.”
 
Israeli-born Eitan Arnon, who grew up in the USA until his family returned to Israel one year ago, said he was convinced by friends to join the group and he is very happy that he did. “I love touring and I love spending time in the open. That is what is so wonderful about this leadership course. Take for example this seminar - on the first day we hiked along Nahal Kziv and learned about the importance of nature preservation and about Jewish settlement in the area over the last century. Yesterday we learned about mitzpim [outposts] in the Galilee and then we walked to the Druze village of Pekiin where Jews have lived continuously since the time of the Second Temple.  What can beat that?”
Emerging Leadership program director Nissim Magnaji said that over 40% of the participants were new immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, including some still learning how to converse in Hebrew. “We have a Russian-speaking guide for that group. Our aim is to acquaint the new immigrants with Israeli culture, heritage, and roots and to strengthen their ties with Israeli society.”
 
KKL-JNF Russian-speaking guide Vitaly Meroz is certain that this program will catapult immigrant youngsters into Israeli mainstream society.
“I have been a guide on this program for two years and I see what an influence it has”, he said. “In the beginning, we want them to feel and understand their connection to this land, that they have come home.” Vitaly immigrated to Israel from Uzbekistan in the 1990s, and is currently completing an engineering degree at Ben Gurion University. “When I arrived at the age of 13 with my family, there were no programs like this and I know exactly how difficult it is for an immigrant kid to integrate.”
 
Ukrainian-born Milana Mirenburg, who moved to Ashdod with her family four years ago, said she feels privileged to be part of the group. “My parents pushed me to take part and I am happy that they did. They wanted me to know about Israel. I am interested in history and much of the knowledge I get here helps me with my bagrut (matriculation) and with the essay I am writing about Israel.”
 
One group of youngsters crammed into the tiny Ramchal Synagogue, named after named after famed Sephardic Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, located just outside the colorful Akko Market. The caretaker of the facility told them that the original synagogue, which was much bigger, was taken over by the Ottomans in the 18th century, who built a mosque in its place. 
 
The next stop on the tour was at Rosh Hanikra, situated at Israel’s northwestern tip on the border with Lebanon. This is the only point in Israel where high cliffs meet the sea. A cable car at the site takes visitors into the fascinating grottos situated far below. However, as usual, the queue was long and the youngsters had a lengthy wait for their cable car ride. They utilized the time to rehearse the skits and songs they were due to perform later at the closing ceremony.
 
Fifteen-year-old Michal Ayubi from Moshav Zrahya just south of Kiryat Malachi said that she has been a member of the leadership group for 2 years. “It’s been a lot of fun. I have learned so much and made many new friends. We go to places one would never get to if not for KKL-JNF.  I have been in other youth movements but nothing matches this for learning, for travel, and for fun.”
 
Israeli-born Eitan Arnon, who grew up in the USA until his family returned to Israel one year ago, said he was convinced by friends to join the group and he is very happy that he did. “I love touring and I love spending time in the open. That is what is so wonderful about this leadership course. Take for example this seminar - on the first day we hiked along Nahal Kziv and learned about the importance of nature preservation and about Jewish settlement in the area over the last century. Yesterday we learned about mitzpim [outposts] in the Galilee and then we walked to the Druze village of Pekiin where Jews have lived continuously since the time of the Second Temple.  What can beat that?”