REFORM JEWISH COLLEGE STUDENTS TRAVEL TO BUENOS AIRES WITH UNION FOR REFORM JUDAISM "ARGENTINA AMBASSADORS" PROGRAM
Nearly two dozen college students from across North America will travel to Buenos Aires on May 25 as part of the Union for Reform Judaisms Argentina Ambassadors program, where they will work on hands-on social action projects with their peers from the Argentine Jewish community.
The 21 students will return from the 13-day trip on Monday, June 6. While in Argentina, they will live with Argentine host families, celebrate Shabbat with Buenos Aires Progressive Jewish community, and work hand-in-hand with students from NETZER, the youth group for Progressive Jewish teenagers worldwide.
This is the second Argentina trip the Union has held for college students; the first took place in May 2003 and was hailed by participants as a life-changing experience. Before my experience in Argentina, I had never been so passionate about social justice, said one participant. It made me feel like an important contributor to an important cause. The warm response of the people in Argentina made me want to participate in even more mitzvot.
The trip itinerary includes five days of hands-on social action projects. At the Arlene Fern Day School, a Jewish school in Buenos Aires, they will help paint classrooms; and at the Chavurah Social Assistance Center, they will help feed the homeless and hungry.
The North American students will visit Avigdor, a colony established in 1936 to house Jews fleeing from Germany; the AMIA building (the central address of Argentinas Jewish community) and the Israel Embassy Plaza, where anti-Semitic bombings took place during the 1990s; and Buenos Aires Libertad Synagogue and Congregation NCI-Emanuel, where the students will participate in Shabbat worship services with a distinctly South American flavor.
They will also meet with Rabbi Sergio Bergman, the leader of Argentinas Progressive community. Rabbi Bergman is the founder of the Fundacion Judaica, a network of Progressive institutions and volunteers who, over the past few years, have provided thousands of needy Jews with food, clothing, medicine, and support services.
By participating in this program, these students will gain an understanding of the rich cultural heritage of Argentinas Jewish community and how it has been affected by that countrys recent economic crisis, said Lisa David, assistant director of the Unions KESHER College Department. Hopefully, by the end of the trip, they will be able to bring a wealth of new knowledge back to their college campuses.
The Argentina Ambassadors Program is sponsored by the KESHER College Department of the Union for Reform Judaism. The program has been made possible through generous contributions from the David Heller Foundation, the Norman Lear Family Foundation Fund for Alternative Spring Break Programs of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the North American Federation of Temple Brotherhoods, and an anonymous donor.
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC.