What we’re teaching this week at RBI 2018


This week more than 100 students and professionals are coming to New York to learn about Relational Advocacy from The David Project and Hillel International. Below are the top three takeaways that we are investing in our participants this week at our Relationship Building Institute.

Articulating your connection to Israel

One of the most important outcomes from the workshops that The David Project teaches is a clearer understanding of why Israel is important to our participants. For us, this “why,” is the first step and most important to engaging with Israel in a deeper way. It is also something we revisit in nearly every workshop as our education evolves over our three-day seminar.


To help students begin to articulate why Israel is important to them, we ask them to think about their memories of Israel – their first, their best, their worst. We have them journal on what Israel means to them, and what they how others will know about Israel thanks to meeting them. We also ask them to examine their values and how their relationship to Israel relates and is shaped by their values. Finally, participants have the chance to articulate their connection in different ways in conversation with their peers.

Contextualize your connection

One of our favorite ways to teach about Israel is by reading through its Proclamation of Independence. In doing so, students are exposed to the founding text of Israel which includes both reasons that the Jewish state was created and ideas about the mission or purpose of the country.

For our students, we want them to begin to see how their connection to Israel relates to why the country was created. Whether it’s through culture, history, peoplehood, religion or Jewish values, each of these reasons was articulated in the proclamation. We ask students to apply the words of the proclamation to their lives and think about what reasons for Israel’s founding are most relevant to them, and which of the reasons do they think would be most relevant to their peers on campus.

Additionally, reading through this document takes on a new dimension as its ideas are being debated regarding the recent Nation State Bill. It’s important for students to know what’s in the proclamation of independence as they learn about current events in Israel, learn how they relate to them, and take steps to participate in the conversation on Israel today.

Sharing their connection

Over the course of the seminar, we work with students on their engagement skills. We teach active listening skills, we teach them how to connect with their peers via conversation. And, we teach students how to connect their ‘why” on Israel to their peers’ “whys.” Rather than give students talking points, we teach them to listen to their peers to find out how to relate their connect to Israel to their peers. Once they are able to show how Israel is relevant to themselves and their peers, then they are prepared to work with their peers, teach them to see Israel through their eyes, offer needed context on understanding Israel and find ways together.

Perhaps most importantly, at the same time, students are learning and engaging with the “why” of their peers. Thanks to this approach, David Project trained students are building a more connected and caring culture on campus. Just as they are promoting a more open and thoughtful conversation on Israel, they are learning to engage on the issues that matter to their peers and find ways to work together on shared issues on campus. In this sense, students learn the true power of engaging – bringing people together, joint education and making our campuses, and world, a smaller place.