The latest cohort of the Diller Teen Fellows has officially began, and the teens have already hit the ground running. This year’s cohort consists of 15 fellows from 9 different schools across Melbourne, making it an incredibly diverse group of teens.
The Diller Teen Fellows program is an international program for Jewish teenagers which the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) is proud to have brought to Australia. It is now in its sixth year. Partnered with a group from the Golan region, fellows from year 10 and 11 undertake a year of leadership development, including regular workshops and Shabbatonim. One of the key elements of the program is when the fellows host their partner group in the Jewish community “mifgash” week, and an international summer seminar, which sees similar partnered groups from the Jewish diaspora and communities in Israel joining together for three weeks in Israel.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Diller Teen Fellows from the previous cohort were unable to host the group from Golan, and likewise, they were unable to travel to Israel for the international summer seminar. While it still remains unclear as to whether this year’s cohort will be able to travel internationally, the Diller team is still committed to delivering a full Diller year, achieving the program goals, and with a commitment to ensure the teens are connected to the global Diller community. 2020 proved that it is still possible to stay connected, even from afar.
The program empowers teens by supporting the Fellows to learn about themselves, build personal leadership skills, and increase their capacity for effective leadership. Through facilitation, Fellows explore team dynamics, developing skills for collaboration, and learning how to listen, lead and inspire others.
The goal is to help Fellows form stronger Jewish identities, exploring their personal relationship with Judaism and the Jewish Community; and providing the platform for teens to explore the collective Jewish experience, understand and value Jewish Peoplehood, and deepen their connection to Israel and the international Jewish community.
Each year, the Fellows are guided by a team, the “tzevet” and this year’s team is staffed with Diller Alumni, which is also a testament to the success of the program. Mor Flenner is a Junior Counsellor who was a member of cohort 4. Mor currently serves on the leadership team of her school, Berwick Secondary College, and has been a learning team captain for two years. She has also been an active member of her local scout group for seven years. Excited to be a part of the leadership team for this cohort, Mor has a passion for wanting to help fellows experience Diller in their own unique and impactful way.
The leadership team is completed with two student interns from cohort 1, Jessy Benary Belfer and Timna Cohen. Both have a passion for informal education and wanted to come back and help educate the younger generation, making the experience for cohort 6 a memorable one. Since graduating Diller, both Jessy and Timna have engaged in leadership roles both locally and in Israel and are keen to share their experiences in Diller with the new cohort.
The team is led by Shlomit Weidenfeld, who is now in her second year as Coordinator. She is passionate about challenging and empowering teens and creating community space for teens to develop personal identity within a Jewish framework. “My wish for this cohort,”Shlomit said, “is that the teens realise just how powerful and capable they are to make radical change in the world; however they choose to do so.”
The new cohort has already had their first meeting, over Zoom, and they look forward to meeting face-to-face when COVID-19 restrictions allow for it.
ZFA CEO Ginette Searle said, “It was fantastic to see the new group of enthusiastic teens at the start of their Diller journey, and I look forwarded to seeing how the year unfolds for them. Despite the uncertainty of the year, we have an incredible group of teenagers ready to take on any of the challenges ahead. It is a credit to the integrity of the Diller program and its reputation of being at the forefront of Jewish teen leadership globally that we have such an impressive cohort of teens ready to make their mark on the community.”