Over the weekend of February 8-10, I represented The David Project at the Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh’s third annual Israel Shabbaton. This year’s theme was “Israel Through Your Eyes,” with student leaders attending from The University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Penn State University. During the weekend, students saw Israel through a variety of different lenses and perspectives. To start the weekend, Aryeh Green, from the organization Media Central, discussed his journey immigrating to Israel and his work today showing the foreign press the Israel that he has come to know. The rest of the weekend was framed through The David Project’s model of personal advocacy. I started Saturday morning with a personal advocacy training, encouraging the students to listen to the experiences of the day’s speakers and find ways relate to them in their own way. The speakers were chosen because of the various backgrounds they had pertaining to Israel. They included:
- Aryeh Green, Director of Media Central
- Assaf Levinton, Israel Fellow at Penn State University
- Aharon David, Israel Fellow at Hillel JUC of Pittsburgh
- Keren Cohen, Israel Fellow at The Ohio State University
- Lior Yafe, Israel Fellow at Cleveland Hillel
- Josef Raheb, former Egyptian combat doctor
- Ibrahim Faris, Palestinian Law Student at The University of Pittsburgh
The 40 students in attendance chose two of the speakers to listen to, and then participated in a discussion with them afterwards. Later in the day, participants from our Israel Uncovered trip spoke about their experience in Israel, how being there changed their perspective, and the projects they have been working on since the trip.
The Shabbaton closed with a personal narrative training on Sunday. In this final workshop, students connected their understanding of Israel to their own experiences, then discussed how to use the new tools they gained back on their respective campuses. Overall, it was a meaningful weekend for everyone, both students and speakers alike!