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January 23 • 2014
New ZOA group makes it fun
to stand up for Israel.
Stephanie Persin Erez
Special to the Jewish News
4143 Orchard Lake Road
Orchard Lake, MI 48323
About 30 young people attended the inaugural event of ZOA's Teens 4 Israel.
his winter break, 30 young
Jewish Detroiters gathered for
an eye-opening evening. Teens
4 Israel — the new youth division of
the Zionist Organization of America's
Michigan Region — hosted its first
event on Dec. 22 titled "Anchorman 2:
Israel in the Media:'
High school students came together
over pizza to learn about the ways Israel
is falsely represented in the news and
on camera; then the group took a bus
to see Anchorman 2, a comedy about
ZOA-MI Executive Director Kobi
Erez gave an interactive, multimedia
presentation showing the shocking ways
news reporters falsify real stories about
Israelis and Palestinians and distort the
truth in photographs and videos.
"We learned just how easy it is for
a photojournalist to manipulate a
photo:' said Sam Kole, a sophomore at
Frankel Jewish Academy (FJA) in West
Bloomfield. "The battle between Israel
and its enemies is not exclusive to the
battlefield; it extends to every personal
computer across the globe:'
Challenging negative attitudes toward
Israel, particularly at American univer-
sities, is a large part of ZOA's mission.
The organization is always searching for
ways to prepare teens to face anti-Israel
sentiment on campus.
When Isaac Wolfe, a junior at Akiva
Hebrew Day School in Southfield, con-
tacted ZOA about getting involved, both
he and Erez saw an opportunity to cre-
ate an effective and meaningful group.
"I realized many of us have been to
Israel and are motivated to make a dif-
ference here in Michigan:' Wolfe said.
"Kobi and I decided to start a group
that would bring together Jewish teens
from across the Jewish spectrum, some-
thing that would teach Israel advocacy
and would be educational and fun:'
Teens 4 Israel, powered by ZOA,
was created as a way to combat nega-
tive perceptions of Israel. The group
promotes Israel advocacy and Jewish
awareness through innovative program-
ing created by teens, for teens.
"Our goal is to inspire young Jewish
Detroiters to strengthen their connec-
tion to Israel and their Jewish identi-
ties," Erez said. "When teens not only
participate in these programs, but also
help plan and execute them, it really
reinforces their commitment:'
Jacob Edelson, a freshman at Groves
High School in Beverly Hills, said,
"Teens 4 Israel is so important because
it brings together young Jews, the
future leaders of our community, to
support and learn how to advocate for
Stephanie Schulman, a senior at FJA,
said, "At our first event, surrounded by
fellow teens from public and private
schools, from all levels of religiosity,
I realized how critical it is to have a
group like this:'
After its first successful program, Teens
4 Israel is planning several more exciting
ways to engage youth in Israel education,
including such programs as "Krav Maga:
Physical and Mental Empowerment:'
"Paintball: IDF Style" and an upcoming
Israel video PR contest.
"The students are excited to have
such a hands-on role in their Israel
education," Erez said. "I have been
extremely impressed with these young
people, and I believe they can have a
real impact on Israel advocacy in the
Erez's goal is to have student repre-
sentatives from all schools in the area
serve on a Teens 4 Israel leadership
board. Students will choose topics that
interest them and design programs for
To get involved or for more informa-
tion, visit the ZOA website: www.mizoa.
org or contact Kobi Erez at (248) 661-
6000 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Stephanie Persin Erez is a freelance
writer based in Oak Park and the wife of
ZOA-Ml Executive Director Kobi Erez.