[pullquote align=right] Applications are now open for the 2017-2018 Naomi Chazan Fellowship. Click here for more details and to apply.
[/pullquote]About 10 months ago, a friend told me of her recent leadership and learning trip to Israel and suggested that I go. “Been there, done that” I thought at first. I attended a Jewish day school and was in a youth movement for most of my life, what could a 10 day trip to Israel really offer me? But as she began to tell me of the many passionate activists she encountered while on the trip, who were working for just causes in Israel, my ears pricked up. I realised that in the monotony of daily life you don’t get many chances to personally sit down with and have thought provoking and challenging conversations with dedicated and passionate people who expose you to different experiences.
So, in July of 2016 I embarked on the Naomi Chazan Fellowship with the New Israel Fund which consisted of a 10-day learning and leadership tour.
On the trip we met with the social activist group Zazim (a member of MoveOn.org’s global network) and learnt about how they engage and propel people into collective action about social issues in Israel. We met with the founder of Tag Meir who works with both Israelis and Arabs to combat hate crimes. This organisation gathers Israelis and Arabs to visit families of hate crime victims, offering them their condolences and reminding them in their darkest hours that there are many people in Israel who do not condone violent acts and want to work towards peace and safety for all. We met with strong women from the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and Women of the Wall who want Israel to be a country where women can feel empowered to express themselves in ways that are meaningful to them.

We met with Eritrean and Sudanese refugees in detention centres who believe that Israel can be a safe haven for them the way it has been for countless others. The refugees we met were extremely dedicated, passionate people. We met with Israeli activists who were fighting for the just treatment of asylum seekers in Israel and supporting their legal plights. We met with the Social Guard, which emerged from the tent city and was making big strides in making the Knesset more transparent and responsible for their decisions and actions.
The trip left me with a sense of awe and wonder for the amount of passion and hope that still exists in Israel, a country so challenging and intense to live in, yet with so much potential to capitalise on. Many of the activists we met with asked us to simply share their stories when we returned so that they could feel our support. The trip inspired me to keep learning about the activism emerging from Israel and to expose others to these causes. Better yet, it introduced me to a community of like minded people both in Israel and in Australia with whom I could continue the conversation.