A total of 350 Jewish teens from 16 communities in six countries will arrive in Israel on July 4 for a three-week seminar as part of a year-long Diller Teen Fellowship, an immersive leadership program for teenagers from across Israel and the world.

The teens hail from Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, central New Jersey, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Montreal, Melbourne, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Buenos Aires and the United Kingdom. Each community has an Israeli partner community, and shortly after arriving in Israel, the international teens will join Israeli teens also taking part in the program.

Pittsburgh Fellow Rachel Petro, 16, said “what drew me to Diller was the opportunity to get in touch with my Jewish identity, as well as grow closer with kids my age and learn about Jewish history. It’s such a cool opportunity to hear kids my age talk about things I’ve experienced and think. It truly feels like another family.”

Participants are self-identified Jewish 10th- and 11th-graders selected for their leadership potential. They become part of the program’s international network of Jewish leaders, joining more than 6,500 Diller alumni worldwide.

Jen Smith, executive director of the Helen Diller Family Foundation Programs, explained that after arriving in Israel, the teens will travel and learn about the country (July 4-8), experience a Shabbaton retreat experience (July 8-10) and participate in Community Week (July 10-17) with teens from their Israel-partnership communities, including the Upper Galilee, Haifa, Rishon Letzion, Karmiel/Misgav and Beersheva. The last part of their Israel visit is known as Global Congress (July 17-21) with the 350 international participants gathering with the 350 Israeli participants for a week of global connection, exploration of Jewish peoplehood, and shared community service projects.

Throughout the yearlong Fellowship, said Smith, “all 700 teens across the globe participate in local workshops (mifgashim in Hebrew), where they learn about the diversity of their local Jewish community and peers; hands-on opportunities to lead tikkun olam initiatives, where they learn to lead through a Jewish lens; local weekend retreats (Shabbatons), where they experience Jewish pluralism in action; and active partnership connections between Israeli and Diaspora communities.”

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