(Courtesy of Simon Wiesenthal Center) Recently, approximately 130 high school students from HAFTR, Frisch, Ramaz, Magen David and Central joined together for the first of its kind High School Leadership Conference designed to provide seniors a real-time understanding of what awaits them on college campuses regarding anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activities.
The day-long conference was organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and held at Yeshiva University.
Students engaged in a diverse array of learning opportunities including hearing from the chief programming office of Alpha Episilon Pi, Johnathan Bridge; Simon Wiesenthal Center’s National Campus Outreach Director Melissa Weiss; and current Jewish student leaders such as Miriam Waghalter of Rutgers University and Isabelle De Brabanter of Cornell University.
Students engaged in role-playing circumstances that they will be facing and had the opportunity to meet representatives from many organizations who have a role in defending Jewish students and Jewish life on campus, such as Hasbara Fellowships, Stand With US, Chabad on Campus, AIPAC, CAMERA, Passages, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Israel on Campus Coalition, Hillel International, the David Project, Students Supporting Israel and others.
“Uniting high school seniors from all over the tri-state area to learn the imperatives of building leadership skill sets to combat anti-Semitism together is long overdue. While we have a long way to go in producing our leadership pipeline, this endeavor will significantly help us grow the foundations and infrastructure needed to continue moving us forward,” said Michael Cohen, eastern director, Simon Wiesenthal Center
“I am grateful to have partnered with the Simon Wiesenthal Center who took my dream and brought it to fruition. The programming was appropriate, extensive and impressive. Michael Cohen and Melissa Weiss did a tremendous job. Thanks to Yeshiva University for stepping up and hosting the event. I am blessed to be involved with creating leaders of tomorrow,” said Yaron Kornblum, president of HAFTR (Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway).
“It was truly gratifying for Yeshiva University to host the inaugural Simon Wiesenthal Center High School Leadership Summit on campus anti-Semitism. As part of our aim to educate the leaders of tomorrow, SWC’s conference helped lay the foundation for the next generation of student leaders—from a number of forward-thinking high schools—who must grapple with new challenges as they embark upon their next journeys,” said Josh Joseph, Senior VP at YU.
“It was inspirational to see how the Simon Wiesenthal Center brought together students from so many schools to learn from the professionals who are experts in the field so that the students can learn a common language and practice effective strategies for having conversations about Israel on campus. The students met representatives from over a dozen organizations whom they will now have the personal relationships with so they can reach for support when they get to the college campus. Rabbi Berman’s message to the students helped them appreciate the importance and value of their commitment to be prepared to play a constructive role when they arrive on campus,” said Anne Gotownik.