A new generation of “teen ambassadors” is training in Jerusalem this summer in ways to defend the State of Israel on college campuses. The group arrived as part of the Orthodox Union's NCSY “The Jerusalem Journey Ambassador” program (TJJA) in late June, and is expected to stay until early August.
Comprised of top teens from North America considered leaders in their public high schools, the trainees have been carefully selected for their potential to do the same on their college campuses in the fall.
Included on the itinerary for the group are meetings with prominent figures and visits to key locations in Israel, with discussions on current events and ongoing struggles in the country. It is expected that the program will enable the young developing leaders to be better prepared to articulate the case for Israel when meeting the challenge of opposition from pro-Arab elements on campus.
“Israel's most important battles are currently being fought in the battlefield of public opinion, and today we are currently outmanned and outarmed,” said Rabbi Aryeh Lighstone, New York Regional Director of NCSY and creator of the program. “We need to educate teens who will be influential on influential campuses.”
Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of the organization, also noted that “not a day goes by that our teens are not questioned about why Israel is so unfair to the Palestinians. We need to arm them with the historical facts of Israel, and the spiritual resolve to be committed to the land of Israel. TJJ Ambassador achieves both goals, while giving the teens an inspirational trip throughout Israel.”
The teens are meeting with members of the Knesset, Hatzalah ambulance service, senior officers of the IDF and parents of an Israel Navy commando who was recently involved in the Gaza flotilla clash with Turkish-sponsored terror activists of the IHH organization on the Mavi Marmara vessel. In addition, girls in TJJ are learning in the NCSY michlelet program, and the boys are participating in the NCSY kollel, both of which provide Hebrew studies for the group.
“Surprisingly to me, I find myself mesmerized by the barbed wire surrounding the minefields in the Golan,” commented young ambassador Judah Joseph of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. “In the Golan Heights, a place that we love so much and have fought so dearly for, a majority of land is uninhabitable – whether the mountain too steep, the ground too rocky, or the danger of spontaneous detonation too great. The concept of minefields is something American boys deal with only in video games,” he added. “Here in Israel, especially here in the Golan Heights, this is real.”