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Young Zionsists come together for the future

by Daniel Smajovits (writer), , February 01, 2007

Credit:

For Israel and the Young Zionest Leadership Peace is the Ultimate Outcome to Strive For

Close to 100 students from campuses across the United States and Canada came together in Miami, Florida last weekend to take part in the Young Zionist Leadership conference.

The annual conference sponsored by the United Student Division/Hagshama Department, a branch of the World Zionist Organization carried the theme of "Zionism: Make Your Move" and featured programs and speakers which were geared to enhance student's connection to Israel, as well as bring their newly learned tools back to their various institutions.

Sessions such as: Advancing to the new frontier of Israel on campus, Unleashing the Engagement Potential of Israel and Finding the Right Fit. The Political/Cultural Divide on campus offered the ideal forum for students to hone their skills as leaders to improve Israeli affairs on campus.

Although the tropical climate provided an additional incentive to travel south for students from the north, it came as no surprise that the northern states, as well as Canada were well represented at the conference.

Laura Markofsky, a senior from the University of Michigan was attending her second Young Zionist Leadership conference, and felt this year was even better than the last. "It was great, I learned a lot, I'm just sad that it's my last year at YZL, I'm going to miss the speakers and of course all the people I met," she said.

For Liat Papular of Toronto's York University, she echoed the sentiments of Markofsky. "I feel that it was cool to come together with a lot of people and hear a lot of perspectives," she said. "Being a member of Habonim Dror it was nice to hear different sides from many different movements."

Although Papular is not involved with any on campus in particular, she used the weekend to indulge herself in sessions that were of interest to her, such as Diverse Zionist Voices and The New Kibbutz Movement -- A Contemporary Zionsit Reaction to Society.

Yet for the most part, the guest speakers from Israel provided the highlight of the conference for most attendees. Famed Israeli journalist Jacky Levy spoke on the cultural divide between the secular and religious Jews, as well as photographer Gilad Ben-Ari was on hand and presented his photos that he called: A different look at Israel.

"Those photos were amazing," said Daniel Blumer, Co- President of Concordia Hillel's Loyola Campus It's one thing to hear about Israel, to raise money and work for it on campus, but to see how its portrayed through these beautiful pictures, it's breathtaking."

Most attendees enjoyed some of the politically motivated discussions or the sessions that gave an inside look into Israel, however, it was those programs that offered up original ideas to be used on campus that students found to be the most beneficial.

"The weekend taught me a lot that I can take back to Montreal," said Blumer. "We were able to listen to and spend time with many speakers that can taught us how to engage students in different ways than mere politics."

McGill University student and Israeli Affairs Chair for Hillel Montreal Joanne Schwartz came to the conference with the hope of building connections with other youth groups across Canada. "I came into this conference with an open mind," said Schwartz. "We definitely gained valuable tools to generate ideas that we will implement in our campuses."

One of these events "the Dead Sea project" was in the works for a few weeks at Hillel Montreal; however, Schwartz promoted the idea to representatives from other campuses in order to turn it into a national campaign.

"[Our idea is as a fundraiser] to put inflatable pools and ask people who pass by to throw in a coin and wish for peace," said Schwartz. "At the same time, we'll explain that scientists from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians, who never get along, are working together for a cause [the Dead Sea], and that if they can do it, we can do it on campus and peace is possible."



About the Writer

Daniel Smajovits is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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