Jewish Pride Art Workshop for Teens a ‘First Step’ in Combating Antisemitism

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By Rebecca (Brown) Eisenstadter, Director of Memphis NCSY/JSU Chapter

In the face of rising global antisemitism, local Jewish teens will have the opportunity to celebrate their Judaism at a Jewish pride art workshop being offered by Memphis Israel Scholars on Sunday, December 4, 2022. The program, to be held at the Memphis Jewish Community Center from 1:00 to 3:30 P.M., will be led by artist and Israel activist Danielle Yablonka.

The art workshop is the latest in a series of programs offered by Memphis Israel Scholars, an initiative of NCSY/JSU. Memphis Israel Scholars provides Israel advocacy skills and leadership training to local Jewish teens of all backgrounds to help combat antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment. The program is generously sponsored by Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund.

The art workshop is a response to the global rise of antisemitism, an issue local teens are struggling with. Many are having trouble coming to terms with the fact that entertainment and sports figures they look up to are saying openly antisemitic things, and they are realizing – for the first time – that antisemitism is very real, and they aren’t equipped to deal with it.

The Memphis Israel Scholars program was created to address this issue, though when it was founded in 2018 it focused more on the need to prepare teens for antisemitism on their future college campuses. Today, that focus has evolved to address antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment that teens confront even before they graduate high school.

Memphis Israel Scholars kicked off its programming earlier this year with a workshop in October led by Yahya Mahamid, an Israeli Muslim who served in the IDF and has since dedicated himself to educating others about antisemitism and misinformation about Israel.

Lea Thomas, a senior at St. Mary’s, said the program really challenged stereotypes – in a good way.

“Yahya encouraged me to fulfill the Jewish value of loving our neighbors as ourselves,” she said. “Even though we both come from extremely different backgrounds, it was incredibly rewarding to share experiences and cultures.”

Brooke Sanderson, a sophomore at Goldie Margolin School for Girls, described Mr. Mahamid’s story as “really moving.”

“What stood out to me when he spoke was how when you see something (negative), you must speak up right away. Because if you don’t, it only gets harder (later on),” she said.

The upcoming art workshop is designed to help strengthen teens’ connection to Judaism because that’s the first step in combating antisemitism. They must be proud of who they are and where they come from in order to stand up for it, NCSY/JSU wants to empower as many Jewish teens as possible through engagements like this workshop.

The Memphis Israel Scholars art workshop is free of charge and open to all local Jewish teens. For information, email or call 504-235-6834.

Memphis NCSY/JSU is a division of NCSY, the international youth group of the Orthodox Union, and receives an annual grant from Memphis Jewish Federation.

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