Participants in the most recent CIE/ISMI Teen Israel Leadership Institute, December 2019

I just would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to create this amazing opportunity! The best parts of the program were the wide variety of options, the open discussions, and the knowledgeable educators. – Mary M., Mt Pleasant, SC, December 2019

Thank you for the Teen Israel Leadership Institute. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to participate; I learned so much.  I came home inspired and started planning my program to share the learning I did this weekend. – Edee P, 9th grader, Seattle, WA

In partnership with the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Network (JTEEN) and Emory Hillel

The next TILI seminar will be held in September 2020

Hear from teens who have participated in this unique learning program:

December 2019 Teen Seminar

October 2018 Teen Seminar

Read comments about the program from teens and parents.

Program Structure:

The CIE Teen Israel Leadership Institute program offered by the Atlanta based Center for Israel Education in partnership with the Emory University Institute for the Study for Modern Israel, Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Network (JTEEN), JumpSpark, and Emory Hillel will enhance Israel knowledge among Jewish teens and provide them with valuable skills for sharing that knowledge with others.  The program is supported by a generous grant from an anonymous foundation.

The program is for all students who are in grades 10 – 12. 

There are three components:

  • A weekend retreat
  • 2 webinars
  • A project to be shared with a local Jewish community school, congregation, or organization

During the retreat, participants will engage in wide variety of learning sessions and experiences. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to take a tour of the Emory University campus.

All participants will be required to create an Israel learning program for their community, synagogue or youth group. Projects can vary from a one-time educational program to an ongoing series. Projects can be collaboratively devised. Staff will mentor students in the creation and delivery of their projects. Following the seminar, there will be two webinar educational sessions.

Examples of a project may include:

  • Plan and deliver a course on an aspect of Israel to adults or peers
  • Create a teen focused Yom Ha’atzmaut program
  • Design an Israeli film or cultural arts series
  • Create a website for teens about engaging with Israel

Cost and Application:

The CIE Teen Israel Leadership Institute costs $100 per participant.

Accepted participants are responsible for their own travel to and from Atlanta from their home community. A special travel stipend of up to $200 is available to each participant. Submission of original travel receipts is required within ten days of the retreat’s completion for use of the special travel stipend.

All lodging, Kosher food and program materials are included in the price.

Space is limited

Contact Rich Walter at CIE with any questions


Lodging will be double occupancy at the Emory Conference Center Hotel. Programming and meals will take place at Marcus Hillel Center and CIE’s offices, both of which are on the Emory campus.

Transportation between the airport and the conference hotel will be provided.

Shabbat observance:

Friday night services and dinner will be held together with Emory Hillel (choice of Reform or Egalitarian Conservative). There will not be formal Shabbat morning services on Saturday. All learning sessions held on Shabbat will be appropriate for the day and will not include technology or require writing.

Program Leadership:

The CIE Teen Israel Leadership Institute is directed by Rich Walter and Steve Kerbel.

Rich has decades of experience working with teens, serving as a director of Hebrew High Schools in New Haven, CT and Providence, RI. From 2002 – 2012, Rich was the Regional Director and Lead Educator for the New England region of March of the Living.

Steve Kerbel spent fourteen years as a synagogue education director before starting his own educational consulting business. Steve has worked as an educator for United Synagogue Youth and guided teen trips in Boston and Washington for a wide variety of organizations.

Additional educators include Professor Ken Stein, Kelly Cohen and Eli Sperling.

Ken, the founder and president of CIE,  has taught modern Middle Eastern History, Political Science, and Israel Studies at Emory University since 1977. He is the author of four books, numerous papers and scholarly articles, whose expertise focuses on the origins of modern Israel, the conflict, Palestinian history, and U.S.-Israeli relations. He is the recipient of awards at Emory for teaching excellence, life-long mentoring of students and for internationalizing the curriculum.

Kelly Cohen is the Director for JumpSpark, the Atlanta Jewish Teen Initiative. Kelly has spent her career building meaningful, dynamic Jewish experiences for children, teens and adults. Previous to her work for JumpSpark, Kelly was the Lower School Judaic Studies Coordinator at The Alfred and Adele Davis Academy in Atlanta. She was recently accepted to be a member of the M² Senior Educators Cohort through the The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education. Kelly is a mikvah guide and on the board of MACoM (Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah) and is a certified teacher of Yoga & Jewish Spirituality.

Eli Sperling is the Israel Specialist at CIE and the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel. Eli manages ISMI and CIE’s internship programs; writes, researches and edits materials released by the Center; gives presentations at ISMI/CIE workshops and conferences; and contributes to the day-to-day operations of the Center. Currently, Eli is working on his Ph.D. At Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism under Prof. Arieh Saposnik. He is expecting to graduate in 2019.

Previous seminars were held in Atlanta in April 2018 and October 2018; in Newark, NJ in conjunction with United Synagogue Youth in January 2019 and in Seattle in May 2019.  

Click here to view the April 2018 program and schedule

Click here to view the October 2018 schedule and program

Click here to view the December 2019 schedule and program

Program Impact

Opportunity for Community Based Partnership for Intensive Teen Israel Learning:

In May 2019, CIE partnered with the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle for a community based version of our successful Teen Israel Leadership Institute.  Contact CIE Vice President Rich Walter to learn how you can partner with CIE to help your community’s teens know and own Israel’s story.