It’s not often one sees three young women under 30 gracing the stage at a high-profile conference. But at the Jerusalem Post confab on Sunday, three bright young women with promising futures spoke about their blossoming love for their Jewish heritage and their connection to Israel, courtesy of their involvement in Mosaic United’s Campus Fellow program.
Mosaic United is a unique initiative spearheaded by Naftali Bennett’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry that invests in the education of the Jewish Diaspora through every moment of their upbringing.
“We have the humble goal of revitalizing and strengthening Jewish life for youth around the world,” Mosaic CEO Benjamin Levy told the audience. “It’s time to flip the paradigm,” he said, referring to the philanthropy models of yesteryear, that assume the onus for investing in the Diaspora must fall on Jews outside of Israel, instead of having the Jewish state shoulder some of this responsibility.
“Being raised in an interfaith household, I always had the opportunity to switch up my identity based on who I was talking to at the time,” Devon Smith, who is enrolled in Chabad On Campus International’s Sinai Scholars program said. “I learned to feel confident in saying, ‘I’m a Jew and although I may not be part of the majority, that’s okay. I feel a pride and a joy singing the Shema Israel [Hear, O Israel] – and that’s who I am.”
“The Sinai Scholars course I took helped me feel that joy,” she added.
The Chabad On Campus program is one of the three partners that has teamed up with Mosaic United for its campus advocacy. Along with Hillel International and Olami United, since its launch a year ago, the Campus Fellows $66 million program has reached 22,000 students across nearly 400 campuses.
For Caroline Stern, her participation in Mosaic enabled her to find a sense of belonging on campus.
“I grew up Jewish and went to Shabbat dinners, but I didn’t really know what any of that meant. So when I got to school, it was a challenge to find that Jewish community that I had at home and I took for granted in some respects,” she said.
Emily Halpern, who also appeared on stage, credited Mosaic for being able to tap into the network Hillel International provides for students and budding professionals.
“I am a young woman who is starting out in her career... to be able to look at leadership in this organization and know they are coming from a place deeply rooted in Jewish values, to see smart women at the top of this organization: those are things that make me proud to talk about my work and tell the story of what we’re doing to our students,” she said.
After the discussion, Mosaic United also honored three courageous students on stage for their work on campus where they advocated for Israel and their Jewish heritage, proving that Mosaic not only invests in the youth for tomorrow but seeks to honor their current achievements as well.