Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What will YOUR JITLI story be?

The Jacobs International
Teen Leadership Institute

What will YOUR JITLI story be?
JITLI is a summer program that gives you the opportunity to be selected for a truly unique journey to Israel.


  • 15 amazing days in Israel
  • Year-long study with 9 other San Diego Jewish teens
  • Traveling with 9 fellow San Diegans, as well as 10 Israeli Jews, and 20 Israeli Arabs and forming incredible friendships
  • Discovering and learning about other religions and cultures
  • Exploring the land and it’s fascinating history
  • Acquiring a renewed sense of identity
  • Building leadership skills
  • Investigating the roots of the Arab-Israeli challenge

How do I apply?
It’s simple, the application is online here. Just click the link at the top.
If you have any questions, please email Josh Shtein.

Remember, you have to be a junior in high school to apply.

Applications are due November 24th.

Read the article below for an inspiring account from a High School Senior who took part in the program in 2013. 

Article Submitted by Jessica Dorfan, JITLI 2013 Participant

Hijab skillfully wrapped, and body ritually washed, I looked up and did a 360 degree turn, examining the ceiling. The elaborate gold, red arabesques, and calligraphy stuck out from the walls, and the geometric patterning accentuated the carpet. Never before had I stepped away from my Shabbat dinners and shul services; never before had I had the courage and open-mindedness to take a look outside of my small bubble of Judaism, yet at that very moment I found myself in none other than the Dome of the Rock, one of the holiest sites in the world. Overcome with emotions, I stood there shaking: excited to be one of the very few Jews that had had the opportunity to step foot in this famous holy site; overwhelmed by the daunting and intimidating process it had taken to get in; and fearful of the fact that I was in an environment that was so out of my comfort zone and my control.  I held a little tighter onto the hand of my Muslim friend, and partner for the day, confident that she would keep me safe. For further comfort I looked ahead at my Arab counselor, with a newfound sense of respect and admiration resulting from the dedication and effort she had gone to in order to get us in and to ensure that we were given the best Islamic experience that we could get. My look was returned by a reassuring smile and I knew I was going to be okay.

I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the San Diego participants for The Jacobs International Teen Leadership Institute (JITLI) this past summer of 2013. JITLI is a program that brings together 20 Jews (10 American Jews from San Diego and 10 Israeli Jews from ShaĆ”r Hanegev) and 20 Muslims (10 Bedouins from the village of Lakiya , and 10 Bedouins from the village of Segev Shalom) to travel around Israel and learn about one another and about our heritage in the Holy Land. The program isn’t about left wingers or right wingers and it’s not about exercising your socio-political opinion, or changing it. The program is about learning to see one another as human beings, not as Jews and Arabs, not as allies and enemies, but as normal teenage friends. No, a group of 40 teenagers isn’t going to create peace in the Middle East in two weeks, but we sure can take one very large and important step: learning to understand one another by breaking down the barriers, and walking a mile in one another’s shoes. 

I sat at the dinner table, feeding my Segev Shalom counselor until he could eat no more; voluntarily forgoing my own spacious hotel bed to “sleep” cozied up in a tiny room with the rest of my San Diego group; Having in-depth conversations on the bus about the Prawer Plan with those who it affects most directly; learning to dance Dabke, a traditional Arab dance, at a boat party on the Kinneret; sitting in the pool, learning first-hand about life on the Kibbutz; crying on the shoulder of a caring Arab companion as I saw the horrors of Yad Vashem; and being nearly deafened by my Lakiya friend’s screams of joy and terror as we rode together through the Negev on the back of a camel. These are experiences that will be remembered for the rest of my life. No, they are not representative of the heart-wrenching moments that one would imagine JITLI to create, but they were the simple acts of cultures being mixed, of bonds being built, of friendships being formed.              
I knew from the start how much I was learning, how much fun I was having, and how many memories I was making, but it was not until the final ceremony that I realized just how much JITLI meant to me. Standing on stage, coming together for one final round of our emotional JITLI cheer, I began to cry. Not out of pure sadness, and not out of pure joy, just out of a true mix of emotions, and a knowing that the next morning I would have to step away from the trip I had loved so much, leaving my place for the next lucky person to become part of the JITLI family.          
My most sincere advice for all those who have the opportunity to be a part of this beautiful family is to take it, wholeheartedly. JITLI is about the story, so ignore the expectations that come with joining such a controversial program, step out of your comfort zone, and create a story of your own. I didn’t walk away with any less love for Israel or any less fear for its safety, but I walked away with a view free of stereotypes and a love for my new friends- Jews and Arabs. Most importantly, I walked away ready and eager to tell my JITLI story, to tell the world to forget about their misconceptions and to see for themselves. Now is the time. So, to those that won’t get a chance to be embraced by this program, simply take the time to understand and to listen, and let go of your stereotypes. To those that are considering joining JITLI, apply today, make your mark, and I fully guarantee that you will not regret it. Achim Simcha JITLI Imperia. 40 teenagers, 1 community.


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