August 30, 2017
Gary Rosenblatt is right that Jewish students need to be better prepared to discuss Israel before they arrive on college campuses (“Are The College Years Too Late For Israel Education?”). And The Jewish Week’s Write On For Israel program is doing just that, as I have personally witnessed as a graduation speaker for the two-year program.
In a similar spirit, that is why AJC embraced a bold idea three years ago from a New York high school student to create a training program for him and his peers.
The result is Leaders for Tomorrow (LFT). We designed the program to identify, inspire and empower a new generation of young Jewish leaders to advocate on behalf of the Jewish people. Our goal is to ensure that graduates of the program enter college with the knowledge and confidence to stand up for what they believe in, and do so thoughtfully.
During the seven-month program, LFT participants hear from Jewish community professionals, clergy and academics who help students better connect with their Jewish identity and Israel through discussion, debate, role playing and case studies.
With AJC’s access to global world leaders, LFT students also have the opportunity to advocate directly with members of the diplomatic community. In the spring, as a culminating event for our second New York-based cohort, Ambassador Reiichiro Takahashi, Japan’s Consul General in New York, graciously hosted a group of LFT students for dinner. The year before it was the French Consul General who welcomed the students.
Also, last May five LFT students flew to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in his Jerusalem office. The result was a video of the wonderful discussion, shown to nearly 3,000 people in attendance at our Global Forum in Washington and available at ajc.org.
Since AJC launched LFT in September 2015, 80 high-school students in New York and Chicago have participated, learning to be skilled advocates. In its soon-to-begin third year, LFT will expand to Atlanta and Westchester and Fairfield counties, in addition to Chicago and New York, reaching a national total of nearly 120 students for the 2017-18 school year. Further expansion is planned for 2018-19.