After their Hesder program many students of Yeshivat Tekoa go to North America on The Mekor Chaim-Steinsaltz Ambassadors Program. The program was founded in 2005 as an experimental program in Central New Jersey and has since expanded to include the Jewish communities of the Greater Washington, DC area and Scottsdale, Arizona. The program provides a powerful means for any Jew to “own” their Jewish identity in a meaningful way.
The mission of the Mekor Chaim-Steinsaltz Ambassadors Program is to facilitate and model how to love being Jewish in a deep, natural, joyous and un-apologetic way. Our Ambassadors promote and exemplify a living brand of Judaism, one that exudes passion, pride, the daily relevance of God, Torah and the land of Israel, and is rooted in knowledge and personal experience.
The Ambassadors expose people, particularly our future Jewish leaders, to an integrated Jewish experience, an immediacy of God and Torah in daily life, and encourage taking ownership of one’s own Jewish journey.
Two Ambassadors, 23-25 years old, arrive at each community at the end of August and work throughout the school year until mid-June. The Ambassadors are trained in a diversity of learning methods and philosophies and are imbued with an appreciation that every Jew has a unique contribution to make and has dreams to achieve. The Ambassadors are extraordinary role models for all age groups.
The Mekor Chaim-Steinsaltz Ambassadors ascribe to the following goals:
● Educating current and future American Jewish leaders. ● Nurturing every individual’s personal involvement in Jewish life.
● Building bridges among communities with Jews of all different types, from the point of view that the Jewish people as one family, with personal responsibility for each other.
● Exploring important and relevant questions with individual and communities of Jews.
● Strengthening original expressions of Jewish spirituality.
● Enhancing Jewish life: reinvigorating the synagogue worship experience; encouraging community members to organize activities and learning opportunities; empowering community members to teach Judaism to others.
● Developing meaningful and educational relationships between Israeli and American communities by way of innovative and inspiring programs for post high school (gap year) and college age students, as well as for young adults with families.
Collaborative, Inclusive and Innovative Programming
The Ambassadors collaborate and partner with the full panoply of local Jewish institutions. They tailor activities to organizations’ particular needs, while creating and strengthening cooperation with community-wide projects.
Synagogues & Community Centers
The Ambassadors establish learning sessions with community members, and develop and participate in weekly, monthly and holiday programming for all ages. There is a special emphasis on programming for youth. In addition, the Ambassadors place high priority on establishing strong one-on-one relationships with community members, especially by visiting families on Shabbatot, as this facilitates the establishing of meaningful connections.
The Ambassadors join the staff at the schools as informal teachers, and act as role models, infusing classes with spirit and excitement for Torah learning. They organize special events for important dates in the Jewish calendar, develop special learning groups, and enhance the connection between the student body and Israel. The Ambassadors help cultivate programs that connect schools with their local Jewish communities. Special connections with parents are made, which then develop into ongoing study sessions as well.
The role of a Madrich is very common in high school Yeshivot in Israel. A Madrich is an individual who acts as a confidante and role model for the high school student. It is usually one who is closer in age to the student than the teacher/Rabbi. The Ambassadors fill the role of Madrichim in the communities they serve. They will be available to students who feel the need to talk to someone; they will study one-on-one with students who are having difficulties with certain subjects; they will encourage and advance students in their respective fields of interest and will organize special events for important dates of the year.
The Ambassadors Program is inspiring communities with programs and special events at many different institutions, but we are most proud of our success in bringing communities together at the grassroots level. Just as the Ambassadors encourage every individual to take a step forward in their personal Jewish journey, so too communities are encouraged to nurture their own Jewish journey...as a united kehilla.
The Ambassadors program has succeeded in bringing together Jews from all the various denominations and affiliations in the locations that they have been functioning in. Based on Rabbi Steinsaltz’s motto “Let My People Know” the program is bridging the gaps amongst all forms of Judaism.
Indeed, the program’s growth, since it was established in 2005, can be largely attributed to Yeshivat Tekoa Ambassadors’ unique ability to work with and connect to all types of Jews.
For more information please check http://www.letourpeopleknow.org/