Michele Freesman-Levenson

Director of Teen Initiatives

December 2, 2021

Israel education for Jewish teens is a vital piece of the work we do at the Center for Israel Education, understanding that, regardless of politics, Israel is intrinsic to Jewish and non-Jewish identities. This year CIE has engaged over 3,000 high school students from around the world in online Israel programming. Through our partnership programs and our hallmark Teen Israel Leadership Institute, CIE connects high school students with content and context to build individual capacities to learn, belong, own and promote Israel’s story.

CIE exposes teens to expert presenters including college professors, think tank scholars, Israeli officials and our own CIE staff. One teen participant said CIE “provided a wide variety of speakers, each of which were passionate and widely educated in their field, as well as being engaging to listen to.”

The presenters cover topics such as Zionism, the foundations of the state, history through maps, Israeli democracy, the conflict and Israeli pop culture — the topics that most interest teens and help them to become critical thinkers. “I learned a breadth of information about Israel, spanning from its founding and culture to government and global relations,” said a participant in the fall 2021 TILI. “The course deepened my interest in and understanding of Israel and helped me to feel a connection with the country. It’s difficult to find the kind of clear, reliable information that CIE presents anywhere else, and the way that it was presented throughout the program was engaging and piqued my fascination.”

Our testimonials show that teens walk away from CIE programming with valuable leadership skills and knowledge to enhance their connections to Israel, regardless of their previous experiences.

“As somebody with a strong Zionist identity and much prior education, I wondered how the CIE program could be organized to be inclusive of teens who are coming from vastly different backgrounds on Israel education and personal relationships to Zionism,” one participant said. “The CIE experience was crafted in a way which catered to students from all different backgrounds and allowed for each student to take something different away from the program. After learning at CIE, I feel like I have gained the knowledge and developed the tools to confidently implement programming for Israel leadership in my communities.”

Another teen said: “The TILI program was a great opportunity to be a part of. I go to a non-Jewish high school, and I have never been exposed to Israel or Judaism except at the summer camp I go to. I learned new things about the pop culture of Israel and how to be the leader I want to be.”

CIE programs have helped teens around the world connect and develop their leadership skills while deepening their knowledge about Israel. As the program continues to grow, we are excited to offer our next virtual Teen Israel Leadership Institute on consecutive Sundays, Feb. 20 and 27. This competitive program accepts participants on a rolling basis, so apply here as soon as possible. The deadline is Feb. 4.