Yonah Yesowitz, a senior at Union County Magnet High School in Springfield, N.J., said the just-completed nine-day Write On For Israel trip to the Jewish state left him “eager to get involved within the Jewish community and to advocate for my homeland on college campuses.”
Yonah was one 45 high school senior participants in the Jewish Week-sponsored program, the highlight of which is the chance to meet Israeli journalists, Foreign Ministry officials, IDF soldiers, Palestinian doctors and teenage peers.
Yael Cohen, who will be attending Columbia University next fall, blogged about the group’s visit to Sderot, the border town often the target of rocket attacks from Gaza. She noted that while soldiers offer the children of Sderot “their physical strength and courage, we are going to offer them a voice.”
Highlights included an unexpected Shabbat stay in Mitzpe Ramon, in the Negev desert, after a snowstorm prevented the group from being in Jerusalem; discussions with journalists Yossi Klein Halevi, Times of Israel editor David Horovitz and Khaled Abu Toameh, who reports on Arab affairs; and meetings with soldiers who described the pains taken by the army during the Gaza war last summer to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza.
Tuvia Book, Write On’s core educator, who led the tour, noted that stereotypes were overcome when the students learned that their bus driver, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, served the army in a combat unit, votes for Likud and is Facebook friends with Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Linda Scherzer is founding director of Write On.