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By YJ Israel
Dear Year Course 2017-18 Community:
As part of our year-end educational programming, we will be holding intensive seminars meant to prepare current Year Course (YC) participants for life on campus and in Diaspora communities. We are pleased to share the goals and schedules with you.
The purpose of these seminars is threefold:
  1. To help YC students formulate and articulate their personal understanding of Zionism, Israel and its connection to their own Jewish lives.
  2. To offer specific skills training to prepare YC students to play active, informed roles in their campus and home communities.
  3. To expose YC students to aspects of the Arab-Israel conflict from differing political perspectives and interpretations so that they can better understand their own standpoint as well as those of opposing views.
In order to facilitate the first goal we will be doing the following:
  1. Offer a thorough review of Zionist history, ideologies and events seminal to the development of Israel as a follow-up to our semester-long Zionism course.
  2.  Engage students in a set of discussions and educational exercises where they are asked to articulate their personal Zionism and vision for the future of Israel.
  3. Engage in discussions concerning the place of Israel in the lives of Diaspora Jews in general and the lives of YC students in particular.
In order to facilitate the second goal we will be doing the following:
  1. Present an updated ‘state of affairs’ regarding the campuses and communities to which students will return.
  2. Offer seminars to develop relevant skill sets such as public speaking, letter-writing, social media activism and inter-community alliance building.
  3. Students will spend time in a specialized simulator developed to put into practice the skills learned. Details on the simulator can be found here
In order to facilitate the third goal we will be doing the following:
  1. Offer a series of personal perspectives and field visits representing differing views on the Arab-Israel conflict.
  2. Create a ‘safe-space’ for students to digest and discuss the views learned.
  3. View the presented perspectives thorough the unique lens of Young Judaea and its commitment to informed, respectful, pluralist dialogue.
In order to create a unique, safe and hopefully productive environment in which to achieve the third goal, our educational staff has, for the first time, brought together two major political organizations who normally work in opposition to each other. Stand With Us and JStreet University have, with our guidance, worked cooperatively to create what we think is a balanced, open and exciting set of speakers, field-visits and discussions on the Arab-Israel conflict. To see a list of speakers, please click here
I am incredibly proud of our section educators who have worked tirelessly to create this program. It is the kind of pluralist environment typical of the Young Judaea community, rare as it may be in the current polarized political climate. 
To help YC students navigate through these diverging viewpoints, we have included much time for reflection and discussion led by staff that is committed to an open, nuanced and highly personalized process.
Together with the skill-building workshops and the simulator exercise, it is our hope that students will complete their YC experience with a clearer understanding of the conflict, its history and proponents. Most especially, it is our sincere wish that students leave with a clearer understanding of their own Zionist ideology, along with a set of tools to allow them to articulate and defend their views.
I am including the schedule of events covering the period after Passover and until we begin Special Interest Month. If you would like further information regarding the speakers and sessions, our educators would be most pleased to respond. We will also welcome your feedback and suggestions for future programs, as well as those of our soon-to-be YC graduates, once they have experienced the seminars.
In the meantime, I wish you and your family a healthy and happy Passover. I thank you for allowing us the opportunity to spend time and learn with your children. We are honored to be part of their Jewish and Zionist journey.

 

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