Martine Fleishman is an alumna of the Wexner Heritage ( NY IV) Program. Martine has dedicated herself to family, friends and the Jewish communal arena promoting Israel, Jewish identity, Jewish leadership, education, human rights and social justice. Martine is the chair of the Jewish Agency’s Project T.E.N. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At 11 years old, my family and I made our first trip to Israel. I went back again on Ulpan with my school at 15 and I remember as a teenager that while my friends were dreaming of becoming doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, I wished, I could one day work at the Sochnut. Growing up in South Africa, the Sochnut was a magical but vital organization that seemed to be a part of every day Jewish dialogue. The cre`me de la cre`me of the South African Jewish community were engaged in meaningful ways with the Sochnut. The Sochnut was saving lives, encouraging and helping with Aliyah, developing the State of Israel and since my move to NY in 1986, I have been surprised how few people know what the Sochnut is even by its English name – the Jewish Agency.
After 18 years of volunteer service and “leadership” in the Jewish communal arena following in the footsteps of fabulous leaders as Chair and President of various UJA, AJC and Hillel campaigns, of a variety of UJA Federation- NY task forces focusing on Israel, teens, young adults and Jewish education, I decided to tackle a new beginning while trying to stay as active in my other enjoyable and meaningful roles. I have accepted the responsibility to chair a new project of the Jewish Agency. This leadership challenge gives me an opportunity to promote several issues I believe in – social justice, global Jewish peoplehood, Israel and a strong Jewish identity. I am lucky to be working with the phenomenal staff of Nir Lahav, Idit Groiss and Dyonna Ginsberg that will grow as we progress.
Today, we are witnessing two simultaneous trends – increasing numbers of young adults are choosing to spend some time away from home volunteering in at-risk countries, promoting the notions of social justice, capacity building and tikkun olam. At the same time, the issues of Jewish peoplehood and the morality of Israel have been pushed to the forefront of global Jewry’s agenda. These two processes interconnect through the Jewish agency’s T.E.N. (Tikkun Empowerment Network), an immersive Jewish service learning experience which targets these young, motivated volunteers, invigorating their Jewish identity through tikkun work and Israel engagement.
The T.E.N. program will recruit Jewish volunteers in their 20s and 30s from Israel and around the world, in a quarterly cycle, to volunteer in developing countries as well as in Israel where they will be housed in T.E.N. centers. They will learn about the local community and cooperate with local organizations to develop sustainability for populations at-risk in the region or in strengthening local Jewish communities.
The second major component of the program is immersive Jewish service learning, through which participants will take part in meaningful encounters among themselves as well as lectures, seminars and Jewish life events that focus on Jewish identity and Israel.
T.E.N. will strive to meet four main goals: – To repair the world fostering sustainable development among weakened populations
– Immersive Jewish service learning experience that will deepen the participants’ commitment to Jewish peoplehood; serious reflection on the individual and collective Jewish identity; engagement through Jewish and Israeli texts
– Provide a platform for Jews from around the world and young Israelis to exchange ideas and discover common ground
– To foster a positive image of Israel among the local communities and in more widespread circles.
I am reminded every day in the Aleinu “letaken olam be malchut Shadai-to perfect the world under G-d’s sovereignty”. The establishment of these volunteer centers all over the globe will unite the Jewish world with the hope of providing a response to the needs of weakened populations on the one hand, and of developing a personal and collective Jewish identity among its volunteers on the other. Bringing together the Israeli entrepreneurial spirit with Diaspora pluralism, I feel, will serve the global Jewish community well.