"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 twelve months. These months are spent exploring the program's core values, followed by the three-week Israel Summer Seminar. During the program, participants design and implement a variety of social action and impact projects. These projects allow participants to exercise leadership skills they acquire and the Jewish values they're exploring throughout the program. Here’s a list of some of the major elements and components of the Diller Teen Fellows program.
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.
Shabbatonim are weekend retreats which allow participants to dig deeper into prominent issues that arise during their workshops. While participants cultivate relationships with their peers, Coordinators, and Junior Counselors, discussions focus on the six core values: leadership, Jewish identity, Israel, tikkun olam, Pluralism, and Peoplehood.
During the Jewish Identity Shabbaton, teens experience Shabbat in a festive and engaging way as they design and lead meaningful Shabbat rituals while also exploring core questions in peer-to-peer learning. The Leadership Shabbaton is planned and led by the teens, providing them with authentic, hands-on leadership opportunities.
Two outstanding alumni in each Diller community are selected annually to serve as Junior Counselors. Junior Counselors (JCs) continue their leadership journeys by supporting and assisting Coordinators, serving as peer mentors to current Fellows, and taking part in an International Junior Staff Training. 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 around the world.
The Junior Counselors are a part of an international team of Junior Staff. Their training and involvement is managed locally by the Coordinator, nationally, and internationally as part of the entire Diller Junior Staff Team. Training includes cluster calls, two national seminars, and an international seminar for the entire Junior Staff in preparation for the Israel Summer Seminar.
In the spring, Israeli participants travel to their partner community to learn about Jewish life in their peers’ homes and communities. During their 10-day visit, Israeli participants get to know their peers, participate in community service projects, and learn about the history and contemporary reality and the Jewish experience of others.
Equally important, the 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, 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 own communities by encountering them from their peers’ perspectives.
The Israel Summer Seminar consists of tour days, an International Shabbaton, Community Week, Global Congress, and the final Shabbatonim. The seminar begins with a number of trips around Israel through an educational narrative. The peak of the seminar is a Shabbaton in Jerusalem for all International groups - a Shabbaton of pluralism and peoplehood.
Community Week is a meaningful platform for leadership experience, which participants plan together and the International communities spend a week in their partnership community in Israel. Highlights include home hospitality, volunteerism, and familiarity with the life of the community in Israel.
The Global Congress is the culmination of the summer, when all the program participants meet for a five-day seminar that includes in-depth discussions, a wide-ranging joint conversation, and several varied experiential workshops.
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.