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Teens Meet with Members of Congress in Washington, DC

December 7, 2009

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Seventy –eight high school students from around the country came to Washington, DC, for Panim el Panim a four day seminar, by PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values of BBYO. During Panim el Panim, Hebrew for “face to face”, the students from Abraham Joshua Heschel School (New York, NY), Chicagoland Jewish High School (Deerfield, IL), Herzl/RMHA (Denver, CO) and Milken Community High School (Los Angeles, CA) explored public policy and social activism through a Jewish lens.

The high school delegations had the opportunity to meet with Congressman John Lewis (D-IL) and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Lewis addressed the teens about his experiences marching in Selma, Alabama, the Civil Rights Movement and the Jewish community’s involvement in the voting rights movement of the 1960’s. Rep. Wasserman-Schultz discussed her leadership on the EARLY Act, legislation that advocates breast cancer awareness and early detection, and the importance of being politically active.

The delegations also met with the offices of their federal representatives including Sen. Roland Burris, (D-IL), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sen. Udall (D-CO) to advocate for the issues that they most believe in.

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While in Washington, DC the delegations also volunteered at DC area shelters and food banks, met with Susan Abravanel of Youth Service America, Sharon Coleman of the Anti-Defamation League, Adam Harris of AIPAC and Rabbi Sid Schwarz, Founder of PANIM. Since 1988, 16,000 teens from 200 communities have participated in Panim el Panim. Each seminar brings together diverse groups of 10th-12th grade students from around the country and enables teens to take home a new knowledge of advocacy and service.

For twenty years, PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values has been empowering Jewish teens to a lifetime of activism, leadership and service. Now, as a division of BBYO, PANIM will offer its high-quality content and experiences to significantly more Jewish institutions and teens, creating a movement of young activists ready to take on the challenges facing society and the Jewish community.

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