What you do:
I am StandWithUs’ executive director of high school affairs, and I established our high school department nine years ago. The goal of our department is two-fold: to prepare high school students for the Israel-related challenges they might face on college campuses, and to inspire high school students with the leadership skills and the educational content to start making a difference for Israel.
Quote you live by:
“If you will it, it is no dream.” — Theodor Herzl
How does your Jewish identity/Jewish values influence the work that you do?
My maternal grandparents, Burton and Shulamith Caine, are the reason why I am who I am today. They are both retired university professors who believe strongly in being American, but also being educated and active Jews and Zionists. They taught themselves Hebrew and practiced speaking it with each other in their early married years and they raised my mom and her two brothers speaking only Hebrew at home. Because of their influence, Hebrew was my first language.
What do you consider unique or innovative about what you do?
Nine years ago, no one was working with high school students to prepare them for Israel on campus. When I developed this program, I cold-called every single Jewish day school (that I knew about) every youth group director from all the major youth groups, and Jewish contacts that I knew through my connections in the Jewish world, in America and begged them to let me work with their students. I was able to pull together our inaugural cohort of StandWithUs High School Interns in 2012, but the most common answer that I received when I got people to respond to me was something along the lines of, “We already teach our students about Israel.” But when we took a closer look, those students weren’t, in fact, aptly prepared for Israel on campus as we know now. I am proud to be working for an organization that is strategic and farsighted, and have recognized the need to fully commit to moving into the high school arena.
What was the best advice you received?
To listen to our learners. We take student and educator feedback seriously, and make real changes based on that feedback.
Follow me: @mirik61289