"As opposed to many other programs where there's a lot of talking... this program is very practical, hands-on and focuses on doing. Through doing, people get connected, excited, and passionate, but it's the doing first."
Shelley Kedar, Director of the International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies in the Beit Hatfusot Museum
Program Dates & Duration
The Diller Teen Fellows program lasts a total of fifteen months. The first eleven months are spent exploring the program's pillars and values, followed by the three-week Israel Summer Seminar. During the final months of the program, participants design and implement a variety of social action and impact projects. These projects allow participants to exercise the leadership skills they've acquired and the Jewish values they've explored throughout the program. Here’s a list of some of the major elements and components of the Diller Teen Fellows program.
- Local workshops, throughout the year
- Shabbatonim (weekend retreats), throughout the year
- International Junior Counselor trainings, throughout the year
- Jewish Communities Mifgash Seminar, 10 days in March/April
- Israel Summer Seminar, three weeks in July/August
- Professional and Lay Leaders Conference, annually October
- Tikkun Olam Impact Projects, September-November
Diller Teen Fellows gather on a regular basis to explore their relationships with the program’s pillars and values. They are encouraged to learn and lead as they consider what it means to be Jewish, and part of a diverse, international community. At regular Sunday workshops, participants explore program pillars through team-building exercises, hands-on volunteering, dynamic conversations, and Jewish text study.
Designed to bring participants closer to their peers, program Coordinators, and Junior Counselors, the Shabbatonim allow everyone to dig in deeper on the issues that are top of mind in the workshops. Discussions center around our four pillars – leadership, Jewish identity, Israel, and tikkun olam. Participants take part in at least four retreats during their 15-month experience, each in their local community.
The Shabbatonim are also a great way for participants to prepare for the intensive experiences they will have during the North American/South African/Australian Seminar and Israel Summer Seminar.
Two outstanding alumni are selected annually to serve as Junior Counselors for each local Diller community. Junior Counselors continue in their leadership journeys by supporting and assisting program Coordinators, serving as peer mentors/advisors to current Fellows, and taking part in an International Junior Staff Cohort. Through their work, JCs further develop their mentorship skills, their ability to facilitate and manage others’ work and experience, and deepen their understanding of the rich and complex relationship between Jewish communities in Israel and North America. As part of their annual program, JCs participate in monthly conference calls, individual check-ins and two seminars; one in North America and one in Israel. JCs are given the unique opportunity to put into practice their newly acquired leadership skills.
In the spring, Israeli participants travel to North America/South Africa/Australia to learn about Jewish life in their peers’ homes and communities. During their 10-day visit, Israeli participants get to know their North American/South African/Australian peers, participate in community service projects, and learn about the history and contemporary reality of the North American/South African/Australian Jewish experience.
Equally important, the North American, South African and Australian participants develop a new appreciation for Jewish life in their communities by experiencing it through the eyes of their Israeli peers.
For three weeks in the summer, North American, South African and Australian Diller Teen Fellows experience Israel through intensive interaction with their Israeli peers. In turn, Israeli participants gain a new understanding of Jewish identity and expression in their communities by encountering it from their peers’ perspectives.
Highlights of the Israel Summer Seminar include the Jewish Communities Kennes and the International Congress, when all 520 Diller Teen Fellows come together to share their stories and envision the Jewish future.
Through these conversations and experiences, participants develop a strengthened sense of belonging and responsibility to the Jewish People and Israel. They experience Israel through a new lens, based on real and direct connections to the land, its history, and its people.
The Israel Summer Seminar, with the International Congress as its centerpiece, is an integral part of the Diller Teen Fellows experience. The exploration, study, and investigation of Israel are central parts of the 15-month program. This experience ultimately prepares participants for a lifetime of Jewish engagement.
Every fall, the Professional and Lay Leaders Conference brings together all Diller Teen Fellows professional staff and volunteers to deepen the bond between participating communities and to provide professional development opportunities for program staff. The conference is held in a different North American community every year.
During the final months of the Diller Teen Fellows program, participants are afforded the opportunity to envision and implement tikkun olam "impact projects" that address critical communal needs. In groups, participants design meaningful projects that address a variety of issues of local concern as they continue in their personal Jewish leadership journeys. These projects give teens a chance to take risks in a collaborative environment and strengthen the skills they have acquired over the course of the program. Additional grants are made available by the Helen Diller Family Foundation to support these initiatives.