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Disrupting the narrative

Imagine: Megan from Sacramento and Yehuda from Yeruham would likely never meet, let alone inspire and impact each other’s lives so profoundly.

Megan is a 16-year-old Jewish teenager, living in a small American Jewish community. Yehuda is a 15 year-old Jewish Israeli living in a southern Israeli ‘development town.’ Megan is not nearly as interested in Israel as her parents were at her age. Her parents volunteered on a kibbutz, her grandparents remember ’67 and ’73. Megan, cringes when her friends criticize Israel over a news item, hoping not to be asked again “Megan, you’re Jewish, right?” She just wishes it was all over so that she could feel normal.

Yehuda was taught that to be Jewish, one must follow Jewish traditions and reside in Israel. He wants to join the army, then have a large family in his only home – Israel. To Yehuda, World Jews are either not really Jewish or don’t care about Israel, unless they visit for a few weeks.

To Megan, Israelis are loud, condescending, and are very good selling beauty products at the mall. Hebrew is too distant for Megan, but she can say “Baruch Ata Adonai.” Yehuda speaks English only during English classes, but never anything related to Judaism.

Megan’s school never teaches about the true nature of Israel, and she hasn’t thought about learning anything Jewish for years. Yehuda learned about the history of diaspora Jewish communities up to 1948, then the focus shifted to Israeli history.

Unaware, Megan and Yehuda share a peoplehood, and in that sense, solitude. 

JeSSI was created to disrupt this narrative and experience. JeSSI leapfrogs geography and language. The Megans of the United States, and eventually the Yehudas of Israel will be invited to join JeSSI, an international project that could bring them together.

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