On Sunday, May 8, an energetic squad will take the field at MetLife Stadium focused on a single mission: to inspire, educate and empower future Jewish leaders at top universities across the country. Hosted by MEOR (www.MEOR.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Jewish college students in the discovery of their own heritage and identity, the annual “MEOR at MetLife” event will celebrate Jewish continuity, honor exceptional educators, highlight impressive student leaders and spread the word about the organization’s unparalleled Jewish education and leadership programming. It will also be the most extraordinary family fun day event participants have ever experienced.
“Year after year, we host this event to highlight the importance of the Jewish education and Jewish family, and we pull out all the stops to make sure that all of the families in attendance make memories that they can carry with them forever,” said Debra Kodish, MEOR’s executive vice president.
Participants will have no problem making lasting memories as they spend the afternoon playing football with NFL stars Zak DeOssie (New York Giants), Geoff Schwartz (Detroit Lions), and Mitchell Schwartz (Kansas City Chiefs), feasting on a bountiful barbecue buffet, and enjoying a host of on-field family activities. They will also have the opportunity to learn about how MEOR engages Jewish college students across the country who are hungry for community, continuity and connectivity.
For more than a decade, MEOR has battled dispassion, detachment from Jewish identity and the ever-rising forces of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism to create a masterwork of Jewish engagement that now functions on 21 prominent college campuses across the U.S. Having already impacted 18,000 students, the end goal remains the same: to help these promising Jewish leaders connect with Judaism on their own terms and in their own time.
“While the ‘heavy lifting’ takes place on campus, where students study Jewish topics that are relevant and compelling to them while experiencing Jewish life and community, feelings of deep connection to Jewish identity and spirituality tend to develop most effectively on MEOR leadership seminars in Israel and heritage trips to Poland,” explains Kodish.
Nearly 400 students from universities across the United States participate in MEOR’s Israel programs each year, exploring their heritage through classes with dynamic teachers on topics such as Jewish leadership, relationships and philosophy while exploring Israel’s rich and varied historic, geographic, recreational and cultural landscape. These unique Israel experiences allow the students to build powerful connections to Israel as part of their burgeoning Jewish identities.
Students consistently comment that the combination of classes with knowledgeable, talented Jewish educators combined with touring experiences offers them a deep experience more impactful than any they previously experienced. They return home inspired to seek out additional Jewish engagement opportunities and ways to connect to Israel.
“In addition to fostering a love for Israel, MEOR programming encourages a true connection to the land and prepares student for Israel advocacy on campus,” said Kodish. “MEOR students learn to effectively defend Israel on campus, and some have joined the IDF, interned in Israel or made aliyah.”
At the event, MEOR will honor Rabbi Chaim and Mrs. Adina Harkavy, the backbones of MEOR programming in Upstate New York. In addition to founding MEOR Binghamton, they also run programming at Cornell University, staff MEOR Israel trips and Sinai Retreats in the Adirondacks during the summer, and welcome students into their Binghamton and Scranton homes throughout the year, providing a warm and fully immersive Jewish experience.
“It brings us so much joy to help young people recognize how powerful they are and how much they can contribute to the Jewish community and culture,” said Rabbi Harkavy, who spent his formative years in Manhattan and Bergen County. “The greatest gift we can give our Jewish youth is the support to fulfill their own destinies.”
If you are interested in “taking the field” to help MEOR give the gift of Jewish education, please visit http://meor.org/eventres.
By Elie Klein