StandWithUs TEVEL is a prestigious leadership and public diplomacy program that educates Israeli youth from all across the country. The year-long program trains dedicated high school students of diverse backgrounds on a variety of topics, educating the future generation of Israeli ambassadors and preparing them to become experts on Israel advocacy and the fight against antisemitism.
TEVEL was established in 2019, with two groups in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem totaling fifty students. In 2020 we expanded, with two new groups in Be’er Sheva and Ra’anana, and a second-year program, with 100 students in total.
Promotion & Recruitment
We promoted our program to thousands of students from all over Israel — and received hundreds of application forms, interviewing almost 300 students. We selected 6 groups of 20 students each, who, in addition to a group of 30 second-year students, total 150 students. The 2022 class of TEVEL high school students form a powerful movement of young, passionate Israelis who want to influence Israel’s impact on the world. In TEVEL we don’t care about the students’ grades; we select our participants based on their willingness to commit to this important journey and cause. We believe in our students, that they are going to be the future leaders of Israel, and we want to equip them with the tools and knowledge to tell Israels’ story to the entire world.
Our successful and inspiring opening ceremony took place in Jerusalem in November. The opening ceremony is the first opportunity for our TEVEL students to meet their new peers and witness the powerful potential of TEVEL as a movement of young Zionist teens who take the future of the state of Israel seriously and wish to take an active part in it.
We were proud to host over 120 new students, as well as second-year students and our StandWithUs Israel staff. The event featured welcoming messages from StandWithUs CEO and CO-founder Roz Rothstein, and from Asaf Zamir, the consul general in New York. The students had a memorable and informative evening, enjoyed meeting one another and ate jelly donuts to mark the Hanukkah holiday. The excitement for the eventful year to come was felt by all.
During the first session of the year, our participants got to know their peers and were exposed to what they will learn and do this year. They had fun chatting and playing games, but also shared what brought each one of them to the program. They discussed the reasons why they are passionate about Israel, their goals for this year, and why it is important for them to be involved with TEVEL.
What do you mean when you say “Israeli”?
This presentation was created to challenge teens who grew up in Israel to more deeply understand what it means to be an Israeli. Israel is a unique country with many different cultures and people who come from different places, but at the end of the day we all belong here. In this meeting we spoke about our uniqueness, and what unites us — not what divides us. We discussed how we want the world to see us through those things which unite us, and why it’s important we don’t forget these points throughout the year.
HOW THE WORLD VIEWS ISRAEL
This key presentation provides an overview of how people around the world view Israel, and an insight into how often this isn’t based on fact. The session dives into a discussion on the ‘battlefield’ of words and images and poses suggestions for how to win over people’s hearts and minds. It also includes a look at the different factors that impact the way Israel is perceived around the world, including the anti-Israel movement. This year we added as an example an interview of a former TEVEL participant, Tali Hamilton, who was interviewed on Belgium national television during the operation last summer. This interview is a significant testimonial for students on how they can use the knowledge they gain in the program for future actions in order to educate about Israel.
History of the Conflict
This presentation is central to our educational programming. The two-part session covers the basics about Israel, the history and the conflict, focusing on major turning points, including the historical and eternal Jewish connection to Israel, first aliyot to mandatory-Palestine, the 1948 War, Six-Day War, Camp David Accords, efforts to make peace and the fight against terror and the Abraham Accords. This is a comprehensive and basic briefing of all the crucial information about Israel and the conflict.
Our participants have met in person during the opening months of the program, in accordance with guidelines from the Health Ministry and with extra precautions from our staff.
Social Media Workshop
Our social media pages reach 105 million people a week. The StandWithUs social media team educated the Tevel students about social media skills, running campaigns and how to be activists for Israel across the different social media platforms.
Answering Tough Questions about Israel
Our participants need to be experts on the topics of Israel and the conflict, in preparation for when they are abroad or spend time on social media. We give them the opportunity to gather information prior to the workshop and prepare their response. In this session, the students face difficult questions that even experienced speakers sometimes struggle to answer. It is important for us not to tell them what to answer, but to focus instead on how to respond to different questions.
Speaking in Front of a Camera
Our students learned how to speak and express their knowledge in an interview format. The session was delivered by an experienced actor who is also an alumnus of the StandWithUs Fellowship program. It included training and exercises for the students to gain experience in front of the camera.
Writing skills are essential for telling Israel’s story. Tevel students met with the spokesperson of StandWithUs and were given the opportunity to write their own short masterpiece about various topics related to Israel.
The Jewish Diaspora
It is important to us that our Tevel students learn about the history and culture of Jewish communities around the world. This session is dedicated to the legacy and importance of these communities, and discussing their future relationship with Israel as well as what we, as Israeli students, can do to strengthen this relationship.
“My Israel Story”
Our participants learned from their coordinators how to tell their unique Israeli story in front of people from across the globe and use their story to inspire others about Israel. Every Israeli has his or her own story — they just need to learn how to express it.
Tevel students gathered on Holocaust Memorial Day to hear the unbelievable stories of Holocaust survivors. This was an opportunity to connect between the generations and provide
a meaningful lesson about antisemitism.
For the first time ever, the TEVEL strategic tour in the Gaza envelope was led by StandWithUs’ outstanding team. The title was “The Day after Operation Guardian of the Walls.” We began at the “Black Arrow” monument, a lookout point and tribute to the paratroopers unit, where we listened to Gil Hadash, the Head of the education department In Sderot municipality. Hadash spoke about the difficulties youth in Sderot face as they grow up so close to the Gaza border. Then, we stopped at Moshav Netiv Ha’Asara where we heard the story of Shayke and Yoni Shaked (director of the StandWithUs student department) who lives In a moshav which is only a few meters from the Gaza border. As current residents of the moshav, Yoni and Shayke showed the TEVEL participants what It means to grow up under the threats of rockets, fire balloons, and terrorist threats. This presentation was combined with information and facts about the lives of Palestinians living under the control of Hamas. Lastly, our students stopped at the Erez Checkpoint, where they had the opportunity of meeting with officers from the IDF spokesperson unit and to hear first-hand from officials how the IDF collaborates with International organizations in order to assist Palestinians while keeping the safety and protection of the Gaza envelope residents.
Second Year Program
This year our program Includes 32 participants who continued to our second-year program. TEVEL’s second-year program, called “Gesher L’Kesher,” was established to connect young passionate Israeli youth who graduated their first year of TEVEL, unite them in a national group, and work with them on the ways they as leaders can create bridges to connect other Israeli youth with Jewish teens from around the world. This program is a result of a unique collaboration between Israel’s Education Ministry and StandWithUs.
The participants were chosen based on their achievements last year, with the goal of building a strong, dedicated group of passionate teens who can combine an intense high school schedule with meaningful afternoon activities.
We began this year with our first-ever seminar in Jerusalem. We were lucky to host the Minister of Diaspora Affairs Mr. Nachman Shai who was impressed by our participants and their knowledge about the importance of creating connections between Israelis and Jews from around the world. Our second seminar was also held in Jerusalem, where we began with a panel of the Jewish Agency, hearing from shlichim who have completed their gap year abroad and today serve in the IDF in key positions. The second seminar was focused on creating projects of intersection between groups of Israelis and North American students from the StandWithUs High-School program.
In addition, our participants have virtual meetings that are held once every three weeks, showcasing compelling speakers who lecture about the lives of Jewish communities around the world.
Third Year Program: TEVEL Counselors
As they began 12th grade in high school, we launched a new pilot where we chose two participants who excelled in their time in TEVEL. The counselors were selected based on their commitment, experience, knowledge and willingness to educate the future generation of TEVEL leaders.
Activism as Part of Tevel
Due to its success last year during Covid-19, project ConnecTeen was launched as a mandatory activity for all participants of Tevel. We had 36 groups this year, each consisting of 2 Israeli students and 1 intern from the StandWithUs office in the US.
ConnecTeen includes 4 meetups, arranged by the students according to time zones, and culminates with the creation of an engaging presentation on a topic the students choose from a list provided. The students work in teams to research the topic and build the final presentation.
ConnecTeen is an opportunity to communicate with foreign students, practice English, work on a team project, organize scheduling, present about Israel and practice public diplomacy.
The Tevel Hackathon is the highlight of the program. A 4-hour event where students get a chance to create their own project and prepare for all the stages — from brainstorming to carrying out a real pro-Israel project. The challenges StandWithUs faces on a global scale were presented to the Tevel students before the event in order to provide the participants with a focus for coming up with ideas.
The Hackathon is run by the StandWithUs team in collaboration with the municipalities, as a strategic way to get the local authorities more involved with the Tevel program. At the end of the Hackathon, each group presents the ideas they’ve come up with and a panel votes alongside the students so each group ends up with one project.
The Hackathon allows the students to use the tools they acquired in the Tevel program; teamwork, creativity, research, producing results under pressure and responsibility. Second year Tevel students participated as well in the Hackathon as mentors, creating an empowering connection between all students.
We concluded the year-long program with a memorable graduation ceremony. The event opened with a rowing contest at The Daniel Rowing Centre on the banks of the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv, followed by dinner and a festive graduation ceremony.
During the ceremony, students expressed their reflections upon the culmination of the program, told their personal stories and shared what they have learned this year. We completed the event by handing out graduation certificates and taking group photos printed on magnets for the teens to take home as a sweet memory from the year.