Students from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and Israel gather in Tel Aviv for a concluding seminar of the Global Teen Fellowship

On March 12th twenty fellows from Israel, Germany and the countries of the former Soviet Union gathered in Tel Aviv, Israel for the concluding seminar of the Global Teen Fellowship 2014-15. As part of this year-long program that included online workshops and weekend retreats, fellows not only explored their identity and strengthen their Jewish knowledge, but also identified social causes they are passionate about and developed communal projects to address them. Participants gathered for the last time to celebrate their accomplishments and reflect on their journeys.

Neta Perelman, BGI Fellow ‘15, reflects on her experience at the seminar:

On Thursday night we all gathered in Tel Aviv. The reunion was filled with joy and excitement and we readily began chatting as if we never parted ways. That night, we embarked on a night tour exploring the cities of Jaffa and Tel Aviv, we learned about the unique architecture, culture and visionary leaders that lived here throughout the years. Being an Israeli, I was surprised at the many new things I learned and the special places I got to visit.

The following morning we got exposed to the social entrepreneurial scene of Tel Aviv through an interactive workshop with the CEO of ZeZe organization, a social enterprise led by a community of young people. Together they work towards leveraging people’s skills to create financially sustainable projects that strengthen the community around them. We left the workshop feeling truly empowered, realizing the many practical and realistic ways in which we can help our communities.

Later that day, we met with a Kleiz Modern artist that infuses Jewish prayers with different styles of modern day music. The young entrepreneur shared with us some valuable lessons on social entrepreneurship. We concluded by listening and dancing to some of his wonderful music. This Shabbat, I got to experience a Reform service for the first time. The prayers were accompanied by musical instruments and singing. It was a truly mesmerizing experience!

On Saturday morning, we gathered on the roof top of the hotel and engaged in an inspiring session of Jewish text study. We learned that being part of the Jewish people is a give and take relationship. Throughout our history Jews organized themselves in institutions to help sustain the community and this is what helped us survive through history and its darkest moments. We learned that our communal institutions were created by the Jewish people for the Jewish people.

Later that day we finally got to hear about each other’s projects and journeys. We listened to each other's presentations, shared experiences, struggles and successes. I was astounded by the amazing ways everyone impacted their Jewish communities and learned so much from my friends.

We concluded our weekend with a beautiful Havdallah ceremony that brought us all back to the summer at Brandeis. We enjoyed a festive dinner and an emotional graduation ceremony. Saying goodbye again was sad and difficult, the experiences and people I've met at BGI will influence me forever. That said, I have no doubt that this is just the beginning. We have officially joined the BGI Global Teen Fellowship alumni family and I’m looking forward to seeing how we will affect change in the world both individually and as a group.