The Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future sent 22 students from the U.S. and Australia to Israel to serve as counselors on the fifth annual “Counterpoint Israel Program.” The month-long service-learning initiative (July 12-August 12) aims to empower and build the next generation of Israeli youth by means of a summer camp experience filled with engaging activities and important life skills.
Israel National News TV joined the campers in the midst of onion picking in a field in central Israel. The onions picked by the campers and counselors will be given to needy families in Israel.
Organizers of the camp stated that this summer's program also marks the 35th anniversary of Counterpoint internationally. Launched in 1974 as an informal Jewish education program for high school students in Australia, the Counterpoint formula has been replicated in the years since in South Africa, South America, Turkey, Canada and Israel with great success.
"As Yeshiva University strives to create and sustain outreach efforts in communities around the world, Counterpoint has proven to be one of our most potent and powerful tools, demonstrating year after year that Jewish education is as much about the approach and delivery as it is the content of the message,” said Yeshiva University President Richard Joel, once the head of YU's celebrated Torah Leadership Seminar (TLS), from which Counterpoint was spun-off.
“Counterpoint continues to succeed because it creates an atmosphere in which students feel loved, accomplished and comfortable enough to open themselves up to experiencing the spiritual, joyous side of living a Jewish life.”
According to the organizers, Counterpoint Israel has made such a profound impact on the students of Dimona over the last four years that the municipality of the southern town has decided to make the move from beneficiary of Counterpoint to full partner, working with the CJF to double the size of this summer's camp from 60 to 120 students.
“Counterpoint Israel has become such an integral part of the lives and Jewish identities of the teens in Dimona that there is no other way this could have played out,” said Gila Rockman, CJF's Director of Counterpoint Israel. “For four years, the municipality watched as its high school youth flourished in our camp and it needed to do something to make sure that this trend not only continued but reached as many students as possible.”
Video: Counterpoint-Israel promotional clip
As in past years, the program – supported by the Zusman Family, Sharon and Avram Blumenthal and Repair the World– includes classes given in English and workshops in arts, fashion, music, dance and sports, all with the goal of improving the students' English skills while promoting a positive self-image and traditional Jewish values.
“For the last 35 years, Counterpoint has transformed the lives of thousands of high school students and inspired its counselors – consistently YU's best and brightest – to become agents of change in the world around them. The ways in which this initiative has shaped Jewish communal leadership and communities like Dimona over the years is a testament to the life-changing magic of Counterpoint,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner Dean of the CJF and a past Head Advisor of Counterpoint Canada.
“So many leaders of Jewish communities throughout North America and in Israel are products of Counterpoint. As this innovative program marches on, it is exciting to think that the counselors and campers of today will be among the Jewish leaders of tomorrow.”