College-bound kids can become Israel advocates

Years ago, while working with college students in the Midwest as a representative of the World Zionist Organization, Noya Adler-Abramitzky kept encountering Jewish students with the same problem.

Faced with active anti-Israel campaigns on their college campuses, many Jewish students found themselves engaged in political arguments in which they felt ill-equipped to speak up on Israel’s behalf.

“I saw it firsthand,” says Adler-Abramitzky, now the teen programs coordinator at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. “Teens go to college, and there’s a lot going on around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and around divestment … and a lot of them are completely confused. People might approach them personally, wanting answers from them, and many times they have no real information.”

Driven by the desire to help incoming college students feel confident in those situations, she has created an interactive mini-course for high school juniors and seniors.

“Israel: Everything You Need to Know Before Going to College” is scheduled for two Sunday-night sessions in May and June. Included will be role-playing, presentations from current college students on how to deal with conflict, a crash course on Israeli history and information about the spectrum of Jewish organizations available to students on campus.

“We’re going to keep it as balanced as possible in terms of the spectrum of different organizations and viewpoints,” Adler-Abramitzky says. “It’s about having information. Knowing the facts, having a little perspective about what’s going on … we’re hearing from teens that they need to know more. It’s a service to the community.

“And we’re going to make it fun,” she adds. “It won’t be like school.”

The courses will take place May 22 and June 5 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and the cost for both (which includes dinner) is $40 for JCC members and $48 for non-members. For more information, call (650) 223-8649, email [email protected] or visit

Emma Silvers

Emma Silvers is a former J. staff writer.