Atlanta-area teens spent four hours Nov. 12 learning about and analyzing contemporary Israel.
Said one teen from Midtown, “I came to learn more about how to talk about Israel in America. Being able to communicate effectively and start conversations around Israel, especially in light of recent events, will be incredibly beneficial to me and to the greater Atlanta Jewish community.”
At the end of the learning program with the Center for Israel Education at its Emory campus location, the student noted, “I learned a lot about the history of why Jews are hated. … I need to do more within my community to educate people. I also need to show pride in order to combat the antisemitism.”
That student was among 41 teenagers from 18 high schools who learned why Hamas murdered Israelis, how Israel was replying, and why anti-Israeli demonstrations on college campuses have exploded. They drilled down on the flaws in media coverage of Israel and came away with definitions of Jewish peoplehood.
Naturally, meeting other teens from across the city and the suburbs, they overwhelmingly indicated a desire to meet again in the spring to continue Israel engagement.
“I realized how much I need to learn about Israel and its history to understand and have conversations about Israel with my peers,” a Lakeside High School student said.
The teen program was part of CIE’s fifth-year program of targeting Israel engagement with Jewish youth.
Debbie Sasson, the CIE project manager who organized the program, thanked the students for the positive attitude and eagerness with which they approached the afternoon.
“You have a deep desire to learn more,” she said. “It’s clear that you have a love for Israel and your Judaism.”
A Woodward Academy student praised “the variety of insight regarding college and the college experience as a Jewish student,” gained by meeting with Emory and Georgia Tech students who shared their respective encounters of life on campus.”
Said Ken Stein, an emeritus Emory professor and the president of CIE, who taught a session on Israel and Hamas, “You could detect the students’ intensity to grasp the geopolitical realities of Israel’s importance to the United States and why Israel’s future remained a core concept in Jewish identity.”
Stein concluded, “There is no doubt that these teens are craving content, and they have great capacity to learn and embrace Israel’s story. It is mandatory for our CIE staff to engage them again.”