Leading Up North
MSU student helps rebuild
Israel's war-torn region.
Rabbi Seth Braunstein. YUSSR Educational Director. Facilitated
Yachad programs for disabled Jewish youth. Led interdenominational teen missions
to Israel and Hungary. Avid hiker and photographer. Rabbinic Associate at Hebrew
Institute of White Plains, NY. Yeshivat Chovevei Torah alumnus '06.
Special to the Jewish News
At Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, we train open
and modem Orthodox rabbis for the Jewish
community. Our rabbinical school cultivates a
love of Torah, a passion for leadership, and a
philosophy of inclusiveness. We integrate an
intensive four-year Halakha and Jewish Studies
curriculum with an unparalleled professional
development and pastoral counseling program.
Fellowships are awarded to all qualifying
students who share in our vision and are willing
to make a serious commitment to Klal Yisrael
hen most college students
arrive back at campus for
their second semester,
they bring sentiments and good tid-
ings from sunny vacation destinations.
As I returned to my beloved campus
at Michigan State University, I brought
a memorable experience that had an
irreplaceable impact on my life.
I took part in Leading Up North:
Winter Israel Mission, the first trip of
its kind, allowing about 600 young,
active Jewish leaders from through-
out the diaspora to travel to Israel to
experience a side that is anything but
your average mission tour. We went to
Israel to work!
Leading Up North was funded by a
coalition of prominent Jewish agen-
cies from throughout the country,
primarily led by Hillel: the Foundation
of Jewish Life, the Charles and Lynn
Schusterman Family Foundation and
the Israel Campus Coalition.
Unlike the Birthright Israel trips, a
prerequisite for this program is to be a
Jewish leader with an active role in the
community, someone who has already
been on a trip to Israel. The Leading
Up North program gave students the
opportunity to make a difference
in areas in northern Israel afflicted
by the tragic and harsh war only six
months ago. The message was to pro-
vide insight to students about issues
and life specific to residents of north-
ern Israel while impacting the region
in a way that makes a real statement.
With this said, it hardly surprised
us as a group of 46 Americans on a
tour bus that we had news media,
cameras and reporters hovering over
us nearly every day. It didn't surprise
us that we were welcomed with open
arms by the community of Pequiin, a
northern city in the Galilee region that
offered us joy, tears and some tradi-
tional Turkish-coffee hospitality.
It also didn't surprise us that we
were backed by powerful, wonderful
nonprofit organizations that, as usual
in our global Jewish community, made
Seth is YCT.
fi* YCT is a place that fosters a rigorous
learning of Torah. At the same time, because
of its profound commitment to Klal Yisrael, it
has supported me in my pursuit to build Jewish
communities around the world, from Belarus
to Australia. My mission as a rabbi is to engage
people while providing the space for them to
seriously explore their own Jewish identity.
YCT: Committed individuals changing the world..
Ariel Gluckson applies a coat of
paint in a bomb shelter in northern
YCT 11:i 1 V
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Rabbi Avi Weiss, Founder & President ! Rabbi Dov Linzer, Rosh HaYeshiva
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Howard Jonas, Chairman of the Board
www.yctorah.org email@example.com 212.666.0036
"things happen" in big ways.
What did surprise us is what impact
performing blue-collar laborious tasks
such as painting walls, planting trees
and clearing debris and brush from
forest floors had on our souls and our
kesher (connection) to this country
and its people. After days of paint-
ing bomb shelter walls to make them
more pleasant for adults and children
should they need to be used again,
our hearts and minds ran rampant
with thoughts of how war had a dev-
astating effect on these Israelis of the
After seeing the destruction of
Jewish National Fund forests and
working hand-in-hand with nature
to restore damage and prevent future
fires, my group was awed.
With all the hours of travel, the
shlepping of bags, the jet lag and social
stresses, I have sparked a neuron
connection in my brain to equate the
realities of the northern Israel political
situation with a realistic and genuine
view of the people who live there with
an emotional spin of my own.
All these aspects combined have
given me what I will proclaim a
lifelong gift, and for that I thank my
ever-strong and supportive Jewish
communal roots.: 1
Ariel Gluckson is from West Bloomfield
and a student at Michigan State University
in East Lansing.
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March 29 2007