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November 2013 Panim el Panim - Day 3

Posted on 11/19/2013 @ 03:30 PM

Tags: pep

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Even breakfast doesn't stop us...

What a way to end on a high note! We closed out the seminar today, with some last excellent speakers, some hard work finishing preparing for Capitol Hill, and then - of course - lobbying!

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A PEP student conversing with Jonathan Kessler, Director of Leadership Initiatives at AIPAC

Key highlights from today included:
- Session with Jonathan Kessler, Director of Leadership Initiatives at AIPAC
- Learning about the 5Ps of effective lobbying visits
- Final preparations for lobbying
- 20 great hill meetings
- Wrapping Up and going home!

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The 5 Ps of Effective Lobbying

We don't have any blogs from Tuesday - - YET! Please send them to rmeytin@bbyo.org!!

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Denver students get some preparation done over breakfast...

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HAFTR students from Long Island, NY - - all dressed up and ready to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill!

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November 2013 Panim el Panim - Day 2

Posted on 11/18/2013 @ 10:30 PM

Tags: pep

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Getting SPACE-d on how to impact issues from all angles and sides.

We really packed it in today! Just a few blog posts and pictures for now - we'll add more once we've all gotten some rest!

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Arguing the case(s) for and against different healthcare reform policies.

Key highlights from today included:
- A portion of us went out to do direct service to the community of DC (see blog 1, below) 
- A portion of us remained at the hotel and did a second policy session, on Healthcare Reform. 
- We ivited two senior policy experts to present their perspectives -- and a rousing and engaging session ensued!
- We looked at a way of exploring an issue and ensuring that we're addressing it from every angle, called "SPACE" - Service, Philanthropy, Advocacy, Community Organizing, and (social) Entrepreneurship.
- We simulated a set of congressional offices and the teen Members of Congress voted for or against a gun control bill.
- Heard from an Ida Crown alumni who is now a senior official at the Department of the Interior -  Rachel Jacobson - who spoke to us about the recent government shut-down.
- Many of our students attended the Anti Defamation League's Concert Against Hate
- A smaller group of students did a (long!) walking evening monument tour.

It was a very full day and everyone is quite tired. Off to bed - - gotta be rested for Capitol Hill!

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Introducing our Healthcare reform speakers.

Blog 1: Doing Service

Today the group split up and went to various service locations. My group went to DC Central Kitchen, where we made 65 pans of salad and filled three huge bins with shredded turkey. The mission of DC Central Kitchen is to collect extra food from restaurants and supermarkets that would otherwise be thrown away. The experience was eye opening and inspirational. I hope to be able to do similar things at home and bring everything I learned at Panim home to my community. - Aviva D (Denver JHS)

Blog 2: Reflections on a Night Out

Sarah is a strong believer in social justice for all.
She is an avid reader.
She is a strong believer in humanity for all.
she is an avid believer that youth (such as us here on Panim) have the ability to bring the United States to be a state of equality.
She is a strong believer in civil rights for all.
She is a victim of spit and stones.
she is homeless, living on the streets and benches of our nation's capital.
Yet,
She is Sarah. 
Gila B. (Ida Crown Jewish Academy)

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November 2013 Panim el Panim - Day 1

Posted on 11/17/2013 @ 10:30 PM

Tags: pep

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Our group from Akiva Hebrew Day School in Detroit, MI, enjoys their first group meeting to prepare to lobby on Capitol Hill

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Some happy Panim el Panim students.

We are so happy to be starting off the November 2013 Panim el Panim seminar! We have 8 great groups here: Akiva Hebrew Day School (Detroit-area, MI), Chicagoland Jewish High School, Denver Jewish High School, HAFTR High School (Long Island, NY), Ida Crown Jewish Academy (Chicago), Jacksonville (FL) Jewish Center, Kushner High School (New Jersey), and Westchester (NY) Hebrew High school. All together we have 125 great teens!

Key highlights from today included:
- Engaging and challenging opening remarks - Ice breakers
- National Coalition for the Homeless (see 2 blogs, below!)
- Our first policy session, focusing on Conflict Minerals and how the US (both individuals and as a country) can influence this foreign challenge
- The beginning of our Street Torah work - An Israeli perspective on how the US impact is felt by Israelis (3rd blog post below)
- Getting started on preparing ourselves for our lobbying visits.

It was a long day and everyone is quite tired. Off to bed - - more policy, direct service, and much more tomorrow!!

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Introducing our Foreign Intervention speakers...

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Students from HAFTR discuss possible lobbying topics

Blog 1: National Coalition for the Homeless

On the first day of Panim a diverse group of kids from multiple Jewish schools across the country came together and formed a miniature community. We spoke with many representatives, including the National Coalition for the Homeless. The students found this particular session to be most inspiring and engaging. On a daily basis we witness but don't truly think about the fact that there are people a lot less fortunate than us. We feel that this opened the eyes of our new community to advocate for housing and make a difference.
Tali G (Chicagoland JHS) & Samuel F (Denver JHS)

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Our NCH speakers - Dana and Candy

Blog 2: National Coalition for the Homeless

At first glance, they seemed like ordinary, working people. However, we soon discovered the true nature of their dispositions. Just a few years ago, Dana and Candy had each fallen victim to one of the most prevalent issues in American society: homelessness. We learned some shocking statistics, including that over 1.5 million people are currently homeless in America today. Sufferers can easily fall into this maelstrom in the blink of an eye - - as the world they know falls apart around them. We often, perhaps ignorantly, associate the homeless with insanity and reproachful qualities, however behind their dusty exterior, they are people exactly like us.
Shayna L & Darcy S (Westchester HHS)

Blog 3: Etay Mizrav

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Etai Mizrav speaking to the group

Tonight my peers and I listened to Etay Mizrav talk about Israel. His perspective on the US' involvement with Israeli was extremely interesting - - and I was shocked to find out that he appreciated US involvement with the IDF. Etay also told us about how his team of Israelis and a team of US Marines had a pretend combat and that the Israelis "won." I loved that he was so proud of that and I respect his devotion to Israel and the IDF. I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to talk to Etay and he was my favorite segment of the night.
Sarah M (Jacksonville Jewish Center)

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Ida Crown students reflect on the day.

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Advocacy and Bringing it Home

Posted on 11/12/2013 @ 10:30 AM

Tags: pep

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Rachel Dow of BBYO North Texas Oklahoma Region writing a letter to President Obama on a paper plate for the Paper Plate Campaign

On the third and final day of Hunger is Not a Game, Laura Mizes of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger joined the group. During her time with the teens, they discussed ways to best advocate for people experiencing hunger in their home communities.

Laura shared some inspiring stories of initiatives MAZON has undertaken and championed in different states around the country. For example, free and reduced lunches for school-aged kids are lost over the summer. In Texas, MAZON passed legislation that said,schools with 50% or more of kids on free/reduced lunch are required to offer school meals over the summer.

The question remained, how can teens help affect change like this?

One way is to start a Paper Plate Campaign, writing advocacy letters to legislators on paper plates.

The Summit participants then spent the morning on a Paper Plate Campaign. At the end of the program, Laura charged the teens with bringing this activity home by researching hunger issues in their communities, encouraging their local synagogues to get involved and being in touch with MAZON for help moving forward.

"The squeaky wheel gets the oil…" she said. Or, the more voices there are, the more likely they are to be heard. "Be a voice for the voiceless."

After three days of learning not only about hunger in the US, but also how to make an impact on this issue and truly help those experiencing it, the teens are heading back to their home communities with the knowledge and tools necessary to make a difference.

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Food Stamp Challenge + Hunger Banquet

Posted on 11/11/2013 @ 07:00 PM

Tags: pep

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Allison Lukas of BBYO Central Region West during the Food Stamp Challenge at Hunger is Not a Game

Later in the afternoon, the teens traveled to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After a guided tour of the campus, they were given a challenge: a Food Stamp Challenge. They were brought to the grocery store and instructed to write down the prices of enough food to feed themselves for a weekend.

Upon return, they tallied up how much their weekend meals would cost in total. Answers ranged from $6 per day to over $20 per day.

Families who live on food stamps get an allowance of $4.50 per day, or $1.50 per meal.

They looked back at their list and realized that, in order to live on food stamps, they’d have to cut out healthy and nutritious foods. This led into a discussion of suggestions for the Supplemental Nutritious Assistance Program (SNAP) like offering vouchers for more nutritious foods and healthier restaurants. It was an eye-opening exercise that put hunger into perspective.

After the Food Stamp Challenge, the teens transitioned to an Oxfam Hunger Banquet presented by BBYO. After being given identities and income levels (low, middle, high), they sat in designated areas. People with high income levels were seated at white table-clothed tables (20% of the world’ population); people with mid-level incomes were seated in chairs with no table (30% of the world’s population); people with low income levels were directed to the floor (50% of the world’s population).

The coordinators brought this to life by explaining real-world experiences that can happen to people in these three different groups that can switch them to another level in an instant. Then, it was time for dinner.

To represent what people in these different classes truly eat, the high income group was treated to a full buffet, the middle income group was only allowed side dishes and, when the low income group was called up for food, the men went first followed by the women, and they were only given rice.

It was a stark difference in food allowance and gave the teens “food for thought” for the rest of the Summit.

Up next, we’ll spend a night exploring Ann Arbor. Check back tomorrow for more updates!

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