A hundred students from area high schools and colleges spent an evening together learning about pro- and anti-depictions of Israel both within and outside classrooms on college campuses. On March 1, they took time from their busy schedules to attend “Step Up for Israel” a program presented by the Jewish Community Relations Council of South Palm Beach County. Gathered at Lakeside Terrace in Boca Raton, they were joined by staff of local Jewish youth organizations and several parents.
Participants viewed two films and had the opportunity to ask questions. “Crossing the Line – the Intifada Comes to Campus” raised awareness of anti-Israel sentiment and activities taking place on college campuses. Noting that college has historically been and remains an important time to broaden the mind and explore a diversity of ideas, it pointed to how anti-Israel college discourse and activities have gone beyond the bounds of good debate that lead to education and understanding.
The second film, “Speak Up for Israel,” urged students to get the facts, learn more, and fight apathy. The film provided tips for how students might advocate for Israel and against anti-Semitism on their campuses. It advised being proactive, conveying positive facts about Israel’s active commitments to democracy, humanitarianism, human rights, environmental sustainability, developing lifesaving technologies, and seeking partners to create peace.
In responding to audience participants’ questions, Scott Brockman, Executive Director of Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach Counties noted the importance of learning about and visiting Israel, “Having a relationship with Israel is like dating or marriage. I want you to have the self confidence to defend Israel but it’s a lot to ask if you haven’t fallen in love. Love takes communication, honesty and time to develop. Once you fall in love, defending Israel won’t be a hard call and you’ll find yourself stepping up without being asked.”
Rabbi David Gutterman, Director of Jewish Education for the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, and Hadar Raveh, Director of Israel Programs at Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach Counties, introduced and facilitated the program.
The program was offered in conjunction with Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach Counties, Jewish Student Union, BBYO-Gold Coast Region, Jerusalem Online University, Young Judea, March of the Living and Alpha Epsilon Pi, The Global Jewish Fraternity. Alpha Epsilon Pi generously sponsored this important event.
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The Jewish Community Relations Council is the public policy voice of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.
L-R: Justin Pollack, Gold Coast BBYO Regional Program Director; Daniel Mesa, South Florida Jewish Student Union Director; David Dossick, JCRC of SPBC Associate; Stuart Silver, JCRC of SPBC Director; Jack Rosenbaum, March of the Living Southern Region Director; Scott Brockman, Hillel of Broward and South Palm Beach Executive Director; Rabbi David Gutterman, JFSPBC Dept. of Jewish Education Director