THE TY BLOG

So you think you can change the world

What we have known all along is now news in Haaretz - Judaeans and TY alumni have and continue to change the world. This past week Haaretz began a 3 part series on how YJ has been a breeding ground for many of Israel's "movers and shakers."

They're the movers and shakers behind Israel's environmental movement, they've spearheaded initiatives to promote Middle East peace and interfaith dialogue, and they include among their ranks some of the country's leading human rights advocates. They're also some of the most influential voices in Israel's think tanks and prominent figures in its growing civil society movement.

Beyond the fact that they share English as a mother tongue, what unites these individuals is that they all trace their roots in activism to Young Judaea, the oldest Zionist youth movement in the United States. It was in the summer camps and clubs of Young Judaea, they say, that they developed their passion for tikkun olam (repairing the world ) - a passion they brought with them when they transplanted themselves here years later.

Many of them still retain strong ties with the movement, which sets itself apart from others in being religiously pluralistic and politically nonpartisan, and which this summer marked its own milestone: After 70 years of operating under the partial and later full sponsorship of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, Young Judaea became a fully independent nonprofit organization.

For Simon Klarfeld, the newly appointed executive director, it's no coincidence that Young Judaea alumni have been at the forefront of promoting a better, fairer and more just society in Israel. "As with any good recipe, it's about the ingredients and how they are uniquely blended and developed," he says. "The Young Judaea experience is about educating young people about their place in the world as Jews, Zionists and human beings, developing leadership skills and being part of a community that offers role models, mentors and friends passionately working together for a common cause."

Among their ranks you'll find Alon Tal, the founder of Adam Teva V'din, Israel's first environmental watchdog, and one of the founding heads of Israel's Green Movement; Gershon Baskin, the founder and former CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, who played an instrumental role in negotiating the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit; Yossi Abramowitz, one of the founding fathers of Israel's solar power industry and an internationally celebrated environmentalist; Eilon Schwartz, another prominent Israeli environmentalist who founded the Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership and has just created a new organization, Shaharit, with the rather ambitious goal of promoting a new brand of Israeli politics; Debbie Weissman, an orthodox feminist who presides over the International Council of Christians and Jews; Jessica Montell, the executive director of B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights watchdog in the Palestinian territories; Miriam Schler, the longtime director of the Tel Aviv Rape Crisis Center, the largest of its kind in Israel; and Noah Efron, a former Tel Aviv city council member, among the founders of a new and rather unusual municipal party that cut across the traditional political divides.

Continue reading here and add to the list of Judaeans who have changed the world below:

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