April 18, 2024
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Ma’ayanot Rapids Advocate for Israel

As Israel continues its war against Hamas, and students face escalating antisemitism at home, Ma’ayanot is creating opportunities for students to advocate for Israel, combat antisemitism and engage in their community in order to build bridges at the local level.

After the attacks of 10/7, Ma’ayanot offered a series of educational sessions that provided important background and training for activism. This included a mishmar series with Stand with Us, Zoom presentations on Israel advocacy with Rabbi Uri Pilichowski, a social media training with Ms. Sarah Gordon from Unpacked, and the development of a special Israel at War Google Classroom that provides educational material and advocacy tool-kits for students and parents.

These learning opportunities provided the foundation for student-initiated advocacy efforts throughout the school. Mipac, Maayanot’s Israel club, organized daily email/phone-a-thons where students contacted elected officials to support Israel in its existential fight against Hamas. The phone-a-thons continued on the bus ride to the March on Washington, where students made every minute count taking turns through a list of senators and representatives. Advocacy posters with QR codes to AIPAC emails now cover Ma’ayanot walls, simplifying the process so that students (and teachers) can send emails between classes.

In addition to in-school efforts, Ma’ayanot partnered with Students for Jewish Advocacy, a national grassroots movement, so that students can join thousands of others to use their collective voice to advocate for their community. Sophie Fine (‘25) developed one of these initiatives, drafting a letter to lobby the New Jersey legislature to pass S2434/A3882, which would establish the use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. This letter was shared with other New Jersey schools and can be adapted for other states and federal action.

An effort unique to Ma’ayanot was the “Rapid Response” to UN Women. When UN Women ignored the horrific violence against women in Israel, a group of Ma’ayanot students responded to the deafening silence by bringing awareness to fellow students and initiating a letter writing campaign to UN Women. Ma’ayanot also sent a van of students to the UN #MeTooUnlessURAJew rally in December to speak up for Jewish women.

Ma’ayanot students are also finding opportunities to engage with their community and build bridges in a time of increasing antisemitism. Ma’ayanot seniors were encouraged to attend the Teaneck Board of Education meeting to speak out against the antisemitic Teaneck High School protest walkout. During the public comment session, Ayala Kramer (‘24) delivered a powerful speech from a student perspective about the antisemitic nature of the walkout. Several Ma’ayanot students have recently joined the Teaneck Youth Advisory Board so that they can build relationships with the community and have a voice in local initiatives.

These student-led efforts and educational programming will continue in the future as Ma’ayanot prepares the next generation of young leaders committed to civic engagement and Israel advocacy.

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