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

On March 17th 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 2015-16. 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.

Anital Belenkis, BGI Fellow ‘16, reflects on her experience at the seminar: We've been waiting for a long time for the final GTF seminar, and on March 17th we were finally reunited!

Our first experience was a fascinating night tour around the city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. We learned about the city’s history, architecture and culture as well as got exposed to some fascinating stories about its founders and leaders.

The second day started with a reflection session on our journey with GTF. This was a very meaningful activity that made us realize that each of us went through a process of growth and learning. For some of us, this was the first time taking initiative and assuming responsibility for a communal project. As a group, we realized we’ve accomplished something great!

Later that day we met Yael Zelnik, CEO of ‘’ZEZE’’, a social organization that aims to empower communities in need through creative and financially sustainable projects. We left the workshop inspired and empowered by the idea that young people can make a difference in this world. We too can become a part of a community in which we do what we believe in while bringing value to others.

A few hours before Shabbat we met with the singer and song writer Shimon Smit. We’ve listened to his story, becoming an artist and the challenges he faced. We spoke about pursuing dreams and how we decide what we want to do in life, what direction to choose. We sang together and created the perfect Shabbat atmosphere.

Our Shabbat morning started with an interactive and engaging discussion about the weekly portion in the process of which we got to express our thoughts and ideas by using paper. This was a unique and artistic way to express ourselves. The second part of the day was dedicated to our final presentations. We finally got to hear about each other’s projects. It was amazing to be exposed to the creativity and the impactful work of each fellow in the group.

We concluded our weekend at a unique place called ‘’Bar Kayma.’’ This is a cooperative that operates a community center, a bar and a restaurant all in one place. We learned a lot about what it takes to maintain such complex social enterprise sustainable. There, we gathered one last time for the ceremony of Havdalla, ate a delicious dinner and received our diplomas.

This seminar concluded our journey with GTF in a perfect way. We got really inspired by the workshops, people and, conversations we had during the seminar. The entire program made me think a lot about my Jewish identity, and encouraged me to take a bigger interest in the Jewish world. The final seminar and GTF as a whole were remarkable and meaningful for all of us. It was amazing to have this reunion and I am thankful for all the connections I made throughout my journey. Though saying goodbye was hard I am sure this is just the beginning of a long lasting friendship.