Creating Connections in Israel

Diller Teen Fellows' San Francisco coordinator meets the Upper Galilee partners for the first time

For the past 18 years, our Federation has maintained a partnership with the city of Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel through the Diller Teen Fellows program. Every year, 20 teens are selected from each region to participate in the program, and they spend 15 months collaborating on leadership and Jewish identity projects – first remotely and then in person – through a travel exchange. Traditionally, the San Francisco coordinator doesn’t meet the Israeli fellows until they come for their visit to the United States in April. But this year, while taking a winter trip to Israel to visit friends and family, I decided it would be a great, unplanned opportunity to meet the fellows in advance and even run a program with them.

On December 20, I ventured to Kiryat Shmona and participated in a friendly workshop with the new cohort of Upper Galilee Diller Teen fellows. Yes, three katyusha rockets fell about 30 minutes before the workshop began, but it did not manage to put a damper on the excitement of making this initial connection between our two communities.

The workshop began with each Israeli Diller fellow presenting their newly assigned Diller partner from San Francisco. One teen baked fortune cookies with facts about her partner in each one; another had a pizza “delivered” with clues about his partner’s hobbies written in ketchup on each slice. There were puzzles, online quizzes, slideshows, games and even an incredible serenade of the Adele song “Hello” (in English), with the words changed to introduce one of the San Francisco fellows.

The teens’ creativity was as impressive as their enthusiasm. During the break, they all had questions about each of the San Francisco teens and the city that they will be visiting in April during the Diller Jewish Community Mifgash.

The workshop concluded with an engaging program on pluralism and peoplehood: two main themes of the program that this cultural exchange between Israeli and American teens fosters so well.

Lara (bottom row, center) with the Upper Galilee Diller Teen Fellows

Learn more about the San Francisco Diller Teen Fellows program, or contact Lara Walklet at 415.512.6292.

To learn more about the International Diller Teen Fellows and the numerous communities that they oversee, visit their website.

Categories: Teens, Israel, Leadership


January 27, 2016