“All Jews are responsible for one another” – Talmud Bavli (Sanhedrin 27:B)
The next generation of Jewish community leaders is currently of college age. However, before they are launched into leadership, they must first become an active part of Jewish community life. Spread throughout the Former Soviet Union, 150 Arevim youth centers cater to about 18,000 student members.
The term ‘Arevim’ derives from the passage, ‘Kol Yisroel Arevim Zeh Le-zeh’ (lit. All Jews are responsible for one another). Indeed, Arevim activities aim at providing these youngsters with a sense ofcommunity and an understanding that they share a common destiny with, are accountable to and dependent upon other members of the community.
Arevim students meet on Friday nights for a Beginners Service and Shabbat meal, and on Sundays for Torah studies and social activities. These range from concerts and holiday parties to bowling, paintball, excursions, discussion groups and mock quiz shows, such as “Who Wants to Be a Jewish Millionaire?” They offer an ideal way for young people to meet and date fellow Jews.
Arevim centers also prepare 17-26 year olds for professional and civic responsibility. They organize leadership training workshops, featuring psychological training and team-building, highlighting relevant Jewish background sources. They introduce students to mentors in the business community, organize internships and help them with job searches.
Thus, by showing organizational involvement in the student’s private affairs, Arevim demonstrates quite clearly that life can be more rewarding and certainly somewhat easier when one accepts the help of, and contributes to a supportive community.