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A Day of Service in Washington, DC

Posted on 03/29/2011 @ 10:35 AM

Today at Panim el Panim we learned about political activism by actually going out and doing service projects in our community. My group went to the Common Good City Farm, which grows produce in an area where residents have difficulty getting fresh fruits and vegetables. One great opportunity they provide is the chance for low income residents to come work in the farm and take home what they harvest. Urban farms are very beneficial and should be implemented all over.

When we returned to the Marriott, we gathered our extra socks and toiletries and gave them to homeless people. Although I didn't find anyone in need of my toothbrushes, this was a great way to make connections and brighten someone's day. I was surprised to hear what many of them had to say about politics and suggestions to better our country.

Next, we heard from Jackie Rottman about her experience at Panim el Panim and how it led to her founding Everybody Dance Now, a nonprofit that provides free hip hop classes for low income teens. After Jackie, we heard about issues on Israel and the importance of a USA-Israel connection. This was all to help give us ideas for when we are lobbying to our representatives on Wednesday.

Then a lovely meal was served and we watched the documentary "Waiting for Superman," which discusses merit system and tenure for public school teachers as well as the reforms made by former DC superintendent Michelle Rhee. This film provoked interesting debate among my fellow Panim el Panim-ers and made me look forward to discussing this issue with my California representatives."

Sarah Chase, Congregation B'nai Brith from Santa Barbara, California

A sea of Jewish teens, the experience to watch the next generation emerge in front my own two eyes, this is Panim el Panim. Yesterday, I worked with 7 intelligent young Jewish leaders and created a hypothetical community service project. This exercise sparked many new ideas for service projects that are both beneficial and fun. I can help my own community by bringing these back to Sarasota. Panim el Panim has opened my mind to a new way of thinking. I now will greet every less fortunate person I see on the street, and let him or her know someone is praying for them.

Sara Tedesco, Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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Arriving in Washington, DC

Posted on 03/27/2011 @ 01:17 PM

Today we flew into DC. Everyone started out in one room and it was awkward at first. Later when we began to mingle with people, we met people from across the country. It was fun pointing out peoples' accents and talking to them about our culture from where we live compared to where they live. The guest speakers from the National Coalition for the Homeless really impacted us and our opinions on how we view people in society. Although we are all exhausted, it is evident how much this trip is going to affect our lives for the better.

Bradyn McLean, Wisconsin Region BBYO

If you thought they would take it easy on us the first day, you were sorely mistaken. Immediately, everyone was forced to mingle and socialize, and were asked the hard questions right off the bat. Our first text study about the origin of our names opened up our eyes on how we need to view ourselves, and the ice breaker introduced the major themes of the seminar - education, and the Middle East. The guest speakers from the National Coalition for the Homeless really set a precedent for the rest of the week - as teens we are the leaders of today and we need to make positive changes in the world. The madrichim (support staff from local universities) were very knowledgeable resources and leaders who shared a lot about the city of Washington, DC, and about life. Although Obama didn't make a guest appearance during our visit to the White House, the White House can still stand alone with its history and power. Even if we were all tired, it is clear how much of an impact this trip could have on our views of the world as a whole, and on each of our individual communities.

Samantha Zacher, Wisconsin Region BBYO

The first major program we experienced was a panel and Q&A with Steve and John from the National Coalition for the Homeless, who taught us about current issues for the homeless community, ways that we can help change the system, and how we should interact with homeless people we encounter. After that session we walked to the White House. The walk was nice in the cool air. When we arrived I was surprised by how small the White House was. It looks bigger on TV. After we returned back to the hotel we met with the staff from our home community. They previewed the remainder of the seminar, particularly focusing on our upcoming visits to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, when we'll have the opportunity to lobby our members of Congress.

Kenny Coulter, Congregation B'nai Israel, Orange County, CA

Today we listened to formerly homeless people form the National Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy organization focused on addressing both the causes and symptoms of homelessness. It was really, really interesting, and a lot of people were crying after they spoke. Steve's story was especially touching, and I'm sure it made people re-think the way they saw and treated homeless people.

Tiffany Rafael, Congregation B'nai Israel, Orange County, CA

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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Monday: Going to the Hill

Posted on 03/15/2011 @ 01:20 PM

"Today we went to the Hart Senate building and lobbied at Senator Lautenberg's office (NJ) on the issues of homelessness, mental health and Israel. We discussed how homlessness affects millions of teens in the US, how bullying can lead to depression and teen suicide, and how the situation in Egypt is affecting Israel. We asked for the senator's continuing support on these issues and commended him for what he is already doing. We then took a tour of the Capitol and learned about not only the workings of the House and Senate, but also interesting facts and stories about the buildings."

- Molly Dickman

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Starting Our Shabbaton

Posted on 03/15/2011 @ 01:17 PM

"On Friday night, my delegation led services and it was very spiritual. We were able to bring everyone together for prayer even though we had just met. It was the beginning of our relationships with one another. The service brought all of us closer together and had deeper meaning than just going through the motions together, which I enjoyed." - Ethan Knepp, Altoona PA

- Ethan Knepp, Altoona PA

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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Heading to the Hill

Posted on 02/24/2011 @ 12:06 PM

Today was a whirlwind. Breakfast consisted of half a bagel and a review of our points for lobbying. On the train, I talked to a man named Larry. Before he got off at his stop, I learned that we had some effect on each others lives. He is a gay, Jewish man who worked for the Dept. of Education and loves national parks and I am a high school student, who was going to lobby about national parks, Israel, and same-sex marriage. At the Rayburn building, I was glad to see that we were dressed well enough to fit in with legislative staff. I was also happy that we felt comfortable and had a firm grasp of what we were doing. I feel that we got a good deal accomplished during our appointment. The Capitol Hill tour was *amazing*

Rachel Intrator

This is the Place to Keep Up With Panim el Panim!

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