Over a hundred Jewish teenagers gathered in Minsk, Belarus last week to learn how to become informal education gurus and lead group activities, camp sessions and youth programs during a five-day learning seminar organized by the EnerJew youth movement.
The seminar is part of a two-year training program called the School of Madrichim that EnerJew has created in order to develop young leadership talents and foster local growth.
Participants came from 37 different cities across the FSU. Out of 104 participants, 58 were newcomers, 27 were continuing from last year and another 19 youth club coordinators were completing an express course.
“EnerJew is dedicated to developing grass-roots leadership and initiative,” said Konstantin Shulman, EnerJew director. “Our School of Madrichim is a unique project that allows us to invest into young people interested in being active in local Jewish communities and to provide them with the best tools necessary to maker their involvement most effective.”
Second-year project students said they already had a chance to apply their new skills in summer camps, city youth clubs or Jewish after-school programs. At the seminar, they also got to conduct study groups with the newcomers, which provided a new experience of peer learning to the mix.
“Starting from the first seminar, the participants study informal education skills as applied to Jewish content, texts, modern Jewish-life dialogue and all of their studies are built around these specific topics, which surely adds richness and a larger dimension to the task,” said Eliezer Lesovoy, EnerJew educational director and one of the project’s organizers.
Among educators at the seminar in Minsk were some of the best-known informal education professionals from the FSU region, Lesovoy said, as well as EnerJew mentors. The participants came away feeling empowered and enthusiastic about influencing Jewish life locally. “Different countries, different people, but we all share a common goal and that’s just beautiful,” said one of the participants, Nara Masuyeva.