Roswell Klal Yisrael 2016-17 Fellows Hold Seminar in Berlin

The program kicked off in December 2016, with the 2016-17 fellows, comprised of a diverse group of 22 enthusiastic young adults from eight countries, beginning the year with their first seminar in Jerusalem in December. Between March 19-26 the group converged on Berlin for a week of training, touring, education, exploration and communal growth. Rebecca Bigman, Israel Engagement Manager for the URJ, provided this first-hand account and report of highlights and reflections on the week.

Roswell Klal Yisrael 2016-17 fellows meet up in Berlin

We are happy to report back after a successful Roswell Klal Yisrael Seminar in Berlin. This year’s cohort of fellows has continued to expand their knowledge and understanding of global Jewry and to grow as leaders in the Progressive Jewish community.

Our goals for the Berlin seminar were for fellows to:

  • Gain a connection and familiarity with European Jewish life in order to further enrich their understanding of the global Jewish community and klal yisrael – Jewish Peoplehood
  • Continue to grow as leaders and learn more about how to make an impact in their local communities and organizations, as well as impact the Jewish community worldwide
  • Define an adaptive challenge that is personally important to them by designing a project to be implemented that reflects the learning and growth from this fellowship program

Through group discussions and seminars, tours and experiences in Berlin, and meeting leaders in the local Jewish community, we achieved these goals and are looking forward to the next stages of the fellows’ project development and meeting again for the 3rd and final seminar in New York this summer. Some itinerary highlights from Berlin include:

  • Visiting Jewish sites, including current synagogues, sites of former Jewish community buildings, and the Memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Roswell Klal Yisrael fellow Sean Carlin writes, “I felt the importance of one and the importance of an individual. Within the Memorial there are millions of “ones” being honored. The power of one… 13 years ago today I became a Bar Mitzvah… the first Carlin to ever read from the Torah (my dad is not Jewish and therefore any Carlin before me was part of the Roman Catholic Church). And that was a powerful thing for me then. I was gifted Judaism. In many ways, it was not my Birthright because it was my non-Jewish father that fought to raise a Jewish family. That one decision changed my life. And, I guess, I feel indebted to do the same for others through my Judaism.”
  • Volunteering to clean up a section of an old Jewish cemetery, Roswell Klal Yisrael fellow Tamar Paley writes, “While raking and gathering leaves, I suddenly felt that I am starting to understand this idea of ‘klal israel’. I found it amazing that I could feel so connected both to the people from around the world working beside me, as well as to those who were buried in that very spot; and not only through prayer and learning, but also through activities like this. At this moment, I understood that this title we add to our identity is not only a world, but a real connection to our collective past and to the responsibility of our future.”
  • Shabbat with a young adult alternative prayer group, Let’s Start Davening (LSD) that creates their own unique Friday night experience, Roswell Klal Yisrael fellow Didi Poliak writes, “While some of the melodies were different than the ones I knew, it was so special to feel the power of the songs and the prayers within this Progressive community. I loved that every person had the chance to lead a song, prayer, or share his or her thoughts if he/she wanted, and the community as a whole was so spirited! We could not have asked for a better Shabbat evening experience in Berlin or a better community to share prayers, songs (especially Shalom Aleichem) and wine with!
Roswell Klal Yisrael 2016-17 Fellows meeting Jo Frank, Managing Director
of the Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk (ELES)

The Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk (ELES), named after the renowned historian, is one of thirteen scholarship programs supported by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. It provides scholarships for gifted Jewish students and doctoral candidates. Launched in 2009, ELES pursues the goals of strengthening Jewish identity, sense of responsibility and dialogue capabilities among its over 400 scholarship holders, who are thereby encouraged to actively shape the future of the Jewish community in Europe.

Special thanks to Betty and Arthur Roswell for their generous support of this program. In August, the Roswell Fellows will next meet up in New York for their third and final group experience.

For more about the program, click here.