One of the bolder projects that has recently emerged from Jewish philanthropy is a trip to Israel called Leading Up North. Run by the newly created Center for leadership Initiatives and funded by philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, the trip
will involve repair of cities and towns, bomb shelters, and forests which have been devastated by the violence [caused by Hizballah Katyushas this summer]. A specially tailored educational curriculum will be offered by scholars-in-residence with expertise in service learning.
The 500 trip participants were drawn from Hillel students, young professionals recruited by the Jewish Coalition for Service and ROI120 alumni who paid a mere $180 for the 10-day trip and the opportunity to lend a hand to the residents of northern Israel. It seems like everyone I know in New York just left and it’s just me and David Kelsey holding down the fort here in New York, standing guard over Babylon.
The trip seems like an awesome idea and I hope it goes well, but, as in all things Jewish, there have been rumblings of discontent and the usual logistical issues. For instance, some municipal officials in northern Israel have noted that the money spent on the trip would have done their constituents more good had it come in the form of cash rather than otherwise well meaning young diasporah Jews. It has also been noted that the trip organizers purchased a type of paint unsuitable for use in bomb shelters. But hey… anyone can make a mistake. What’s important is that certain goals are met:
By allowing 500 young people to engage in real engagement in Israel’s North, CLI is seeking to reduce the distance between Israel and the Diaspora and to model global Jewish community.
Reducing distance… engaging in real engagement. That’s what it’s all about.
So how’s it going so far? The participants landed in Israel early this morning. They travelled up north and were shuttled from speaker to speaker prior to attending a dance party. People were dropping left right and center because no one saw fit to let the kids rest after a long plane ride. Hotels were unavailable until after the party. I don’t know how wise that planning was… how effective can our young Jewish leaders be if they are completely knackered?? Oh well… stay tuned for more updates. Looks like I’ll be the only one posting about this too because no one there has Internet access either… Good luck guys!