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YU News

Eimatai Leadership Development Conference Inspires High School Students to Take Action in Local Communities

Feb 28, 2008 -- More than 70 Jewish high school students from Seattle to New Jersey will be participating in the Eimatai Leadership Development Project conference in Miami from March 7-9. The advocacy training seminar is a biannual offering from Eimatai, a program of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF).

The CJF works with YU’s colleges, schools, and affiliates to shape programs that will train Jewish lay and professional leadership, develop initiatives and strengthen existing ones, as well as deliver services to its students and the Jewish community at large.

The March conference will focus on Israel at 60, helping the high school students explore issues relating to current events in Israel, their relationships to Israel as North American Jews, and their responsibilities to Israel as Orthodox Jews.

The high school students will meet in smaller groups with Yeshiva University students, who have been trained by the CJF to facilitate activism in young people, to discuss ideas of how to mobilize their communities vis a vis Israel or any other cause of their choice.

“The point is for the students to dig deeper, to think about what they can do in the world and what kind of impact they can make,” said Aaron Steinberg, director of Eimatai. “They hopefully return to their home communities with a desire to tackle an issue or project that can make a local impact.”

Students will be attending from Columbus Torah Academy in Columbus, Ohio; Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, NJ; Yavneh Academy in Dallas; Northwest Yeshiva High School in Seattle; Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago; Yeshiva University High School for Boys/Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy in New York City; Hebrew Academy of Nassau County in West Hempstead, NY; and Robert M. Beren Academy in Houston.

“Yavneh Academy students who have participated in Eimatai have raised more than $250,000 for victims of terrorism in Israel with the Students Against Terrorism initiative, raised thousands of dollars for Darfur relief with the Helping Everyone Live Peacefully program, obtained financial support from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and hosted two Dallas community-wide high school tolerance days with the Uniting Students of Dallas program,” said Chad Baruch, assistant principal of Yavneh Academy in Dallas. Students from the school have participated in Eimatai conferences for the past five years. “None of these projects would have been possible without the help of Eimatai facilitators.”

Eimatai’s fall conference attracted more than 110 high school students. Students at the Frankel Jewish Academy in West Bloomfield, MI, and the Goldie Margolin School for Girls/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South, among others, took home leadership skills that the undergraduate facilitators hope will last them a lifetime.

“Eimatai strives to cultivate a community of student leaders,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of the CJF. “Our undergraduate volunteers are here to help create the next generation of leaders, both at YU and across the country.”