"A life-changing, incredible, unbelievable three weeks"

A few weeks after returning from the three-week Israel Summer Seminar, Diller Teen Fellows are still processing all of the amazing experiences they had over the summer. Two San Francisco teens in particular - Ilana Crankshaw and Arielle Berman -took to the blogosphere to reflect on how the trip changed their lives.


Ilana Crankshaw volunteering at a resource center for at-risk teens in Kiryat Shmoneh, Israel.

Reflections on Israel Ilana Crankshaw, August 18, 2011 “All the conversations and feedback had such an impact on me. It has truly changed me as a person. The experience taught me so much about who I am as a person and who I have the potential to be. From the visit to an orthodox synagogue in Jerusalem or the discussion of the relevance of the Covenant in our lives today at congress, I questioned my Jewish identity in ways that changed and strengthened my beliefs and practices.... Thousands of teenagers participate in Jewish programs and trips to Israel every year. But not everyone gets to lead and participate in intense discussions about the American belief of capitalism verses the Kibbutz belief of socialism. To explore the role the army plays in the lives of Israelis and Americans. Not everyone gets to hear first-hand accounts of what it’s like to lose a sibling or child in the army. Not everyone gets the experience of spending a week being hosted by an Israeli teenager, including having Shabbat dinner with all 25 of her relatives. Not everyone gets to spend their summer with 39 amazing teenagers and form friendships that last a lifetime. But I was lucky enough to have this experience. For this I am forever thankful.”

Micah Fenner (L) and Arielle Berman (R) volunteering to clean up a bomb shelter in Kiryat Shmoneh, Israel.

The Final Hoorah Arielle Berman, August 18, 2011 “Being asked to share my final thoughts on the Israel Summer Seminar, all I can say is this: I am beyond grateful. Not only did the Israel Summer Seminar, or ISS for short, inspire and influence me to be a better leader and citizen of the world, but it also allowed us to form friendships and relationships that I would have never imagined possible.... It's strange to think that the 20 of us from San Francisco are now either fully embarked or soon to embark on our journey into our final year of high school. In a few months, we'll be done with applications and we'll know where we're off to for the next few years. The 19 of the Upper Galilee kids, however, won't know what college they're going to or what field they will be majoring in; they'll know what field of the army they'll be going into. They'll be those men and women in the green uniforms that tourists always ask to take pictures with! And while we think about the danger and intensity of the army and they think about how odd it is that we're in school for so long, in the back of our minds, I am confident that we'll still all be thinking about each other and the absolutely life-changing, incredible, unbelievable three weeks that we got to spend together.”

See more pictures of the 2011 Israel Summer Seminar.

The Diller Teen Initiatives are funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.


August 22, 2011


The Federation