Diller Israel Summer Seminar… Finding Connections

Day #10, #11 and #12


One of the goals of the Diller mifgash is to connect the Baltimore teens to their counterparts in Israel.  It’s important for the teens to understand the differences between life in the Diaspora and in Israel.  For instance, the Baltimore teens are returning to the states to prepare for their last year of high school before entering college, while the Israeli teens are preparing to enter the Israeli army to protect the Jewish homeland.  But, it’s the common threads that connect the teens.  During the International Diller Leadership Congress, the Israeli and North American teens are continuing to discover these threads.  Between the workshops on Jewish peoplehood and dancing together to Israeli rock music, the Baltimore and Ashkelon teens are truly becoming “Ashkemore.” It’s this connection to Israel that will stick with your teens for a lifetime!


Day 10

The teens woke up in the desert after sleeping under the stars.  The chanichim toranim, Danielle Gelber and Ryan Berg, led everyone in a series of fun games to get the morning started.  After an educational seminar on Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, the teens toured his home on Kibbutz Sde Boker and visited his gravesite overlooking a breathtaking view of the Negev desert.


After their visit in Sde Boker, the Diller Fellows headed back up north to Givat Haviva and the North American Kennes/International Diller Leadership Congress.  Avraham Infeld (former president of Hillel International and a master in the field of Jewish education) opened the North American Kennes, speaking to the teens about his concept of a five-legged table.  According to Infeld, the table is a metaphor for a strong, sturdy Jewish identity and is comprised of Memory, Family, Covenant, Israel and Hebrew.  Over the next five days, the 300 Diller Fellows from all over North America and Israel will investigate each of these concepts and determine the relevancy in their own lives.


Since Day 10 was the 17th of Tammuz (a day which marks the beginning of the three-week morning period leading up to Tisha B’Av), the teens were given the option to commemorate the day by fasting.


Day 11 & 12

In addition to the workshops, highlights of the Diller Fellows first couple days at Congress were:


  • Listening to Robbie Gringras (educator known for combining the arts with Jewish learning) who enthralled the teens through story telling and music.
  • Rocking out to The Shuk, a rock band that uses music to connect people to Israeli and Jewish culture, identity and society.  The Shuk perform a high-energy concert for the teens.
  • Socializing with the other Diller teens from Israel and throughout North America.
  • Dreaming about the days when schwarma and falafel will once again be plentiful (See: Baltimore Diller Teen Fellows Blog).


Megan mentioned that every single one of the Baltimore teens is fully participating in the Congress experience.  The teens ask questions and offer insights during the workshops. They lead cheers and create a sense of ruach (spirit) among the 300 teens.  And, everyone is having a blast when it’s time to have fun.  In Megan’s own words, “they are all such an inspiration!”


The Diller Fellows will be at Congress until Sunday when they leave for Ashkelon!

And, don’t forget to read the Baltimore Diller Teen Fellows Blog!  There were a couple shout-outs, so be sure to check it out!

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