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Reflections from the Second Annual Human Rights and Genocide Summit

Posted on 06/05/2012 @ 08:00 PM

Tikkun olam. Fixing the world because it is broken up. Genocide and the loss of human rights may be one piece of fixing the world, but it’s a key piece.

This is one of the ideas the HRGS participants chatted about during opening ceremonies and that stuck with me the entire time while we were there and it will continue to stick with me.

With every program, every speaker, and every thing we did while at this Summit, I knew we were changing the world for the better.

It takes a specific and special kind of people to be faced with a daunting task; trying to fix the world but I think we did just that. After hearing from each speaker, I felt so inspired to help be the change that stop some of these atrocities and I think other teens felt this way too. Not only were teens involved and asking questions during these speaking sessions, but teens genuinely cared about these issues.

After deciding on issues they felt were relevant and important, teens had the chance to lobby to their congressperson to spark change in the nation’s capital.

Each lobbying session was successful and hopefully we will see legislation soon to reflect that. Teens were also advised to follow up with their congressperson afterwards because lobbying does not stop after the meeting!

Coordinating the Human Rights and Genocide Summit inspired me to be a better person, to care about the world around me, and to promote tikkun olam.

-Sara Strei, age 15

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March 2012 Panim el Panim, Night One

Posted on 03/26/2012 @ 01:56 PM

Read more about Panim el Panim through the eyes of a teen participants, Hallie Kenyon from Buffalo, NY and Tyler Kass from Pensacola, FL.

Today, the first day of the Panim el Panim, we met many people from all over America including: Denver, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Connecticut, Illinois, Arizona, California, and NY! It was really exciting to meet all these different people. We shared the same religion, yet we were so different in many ways, it was very eye-opining to see and hear from everyone's perspectives on issues and events. I thought the most eye opening experience so far was Donald, who came to speak to us from National Coalition for the Homeless. His presentation was very inspirational and widened my knowledge on the homelessness issue. I personally learned what the government was doing to help the homeless and that people need to get more involved for changes to occur. His speech was especially moving when he started to remove his old and dirty clothing and revealed that he was wearing a suit -- to hear how his homelessness experience transformed into success was inspiring. It was amazing to see and hear how his life dramatically changed, and for the better.

Hallie

Today, I gained some confidence somehow. Usually I'm a shy person, but I actually managed to talk to people and make new friends! We also heard from a homeless shelter foundation. He told the story of his life and how he made it from poverty to homelessness, to success on many levels. It was a very nice and touching story, and it really made you think about the homeless. After that, we went to the White House, which was very neat to see in real life. I'm excited to experience the rest of the trip, and hope to bring back plenty of memories to share.

Tyler

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An Eye Opening Experience - Panim el Panim 2/2012

Posted on 02/22/2012 @ 12:56 PM

Read more about the Panim el Panim experience through the eyes of the teen participants.

Today the Education Track had a visit from two female guest speakers who shared their opinions on the current government education policies and helped us form our own views on the issues we face as high school students. My eyes were opened to the problems in my high school and high schools around the country and it got me thinking about ways to reform the attitudes in classroom atmospheres, the introduction of information and the teacher-student relationship, and the No Child Left Behind program which has changed the modern classroom into an advanced-test-score producing machine.

Next we took a tour of a famous D.C. location of our choice. The Philadelphia delegation toured the American History Museum and learned a lot about the impact of entertainment on our country's history.

And finally, the most rewarding part of the day was venturing out to the Occupy D.C. park to perform what we call "Street Torah" which essentially ended in many conversations with the homeless who stay there whether by choice or by need. We provided them with simple necessities such as socks, gloves, deodorant, and tooth paste. Most of the people there at the time were still from the Occupy movement and were very eager to share their views with us.

Jessica Shapiro

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Learning from New Teachers - Panim el Panim 2/2012

Posted on 02/21/2012 @ 12:56 PM

Read more about the Panim el Panim experience through the eyes of the teen participants.

Today I was introduced to two former homeless people, who have shared stories from their past. The stories that they told were about the most difficult times that they experienced. One of the informers, Candy, explained how she started out being quite wealthy to almost having nothing. I have never heard of a story from a homeless person that started out where they had an abundant amount of money to go from shelter to shelter. The other individual had a very emotional story as well but Candy shared something new to me and that is what made her stand out out so much for me.

Steven Melamud

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February 2012 Panim el Panim...Night One!

Posted on 02/20/2012 @ 12:56 PM

Read more about the Panim el Panim experience through the eyes of the teen participants.

Yesterday was the first time I came on a Panim el Panim trip and so far I have had loads of fun. We met new people and played ice breakers. After that we learned about people that were homeless and what the word homeless means and how some of them got that way. Most people are homeless because they go into life thinking that they can fend for themselves. With that in mind, they go through many obstacles in their lives and they experience homelessness. Hearing these stories was very touching and it changed my thoughts on how I want to live my life. At about 8:00 we went to see many monuments in Washington. My group Team Goldstein saw the Lincoln monument, memorial, and the Martin Luther King monument.

Ashley Erenburg, Kings Bay Y, Brooklyn, NY


Yesterday we arrived in Washington D.C.! We has an amazing discussion last night with people who have gone through being homeless. We then went on a dazzling, and slightly rainy, tour of the Lincoln, Korean War, MLK Jr. & Vietnam War Memorial. Our first day was great and we have also met many new people an made many new friends.

Annah Walsh Akron, OH.


Today was a good day. After a long 7 hour bus ride the Cleveland delegation finally arrived in Washington D.C. From there all the delegations went to the opening ceremony. We began to learn more about the goals of Panim El Panim and learned about how we identify and define ourselves. It was really interesting. Dinner was good and it also allowed us a chance to socialize with other young, Jewish and idealistic people from around the country. After that we heard stories about the hardships of being homeless from local D.C. natives. Their stories were incredible. We ended the night by taking a tour of D.C. We took a guided exploration of some of Washington DC’s memorials. We were mixed with other groups so we got to meet even more new people. Hopefully tomorrow will be even better than today was!

Sara Shore, Cleveland OH


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