Jerusalem U: Engages, Educates, Empowers

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JewishNews.com

Rabbi Raphael Shore

Canadian born Israeli educator, writer‚ film producer‚ and Rabbi‚ Raphael Shore, is the founder of Jerusalem U. The Organization aims to address the prevalent and growing need to educate and inspire the new generation about Judaism and Israel. Jerusalem U does this primarily through the medium Shore knows best – Film.

“I want young Jews to feel proud of being Jewish and for them to be emotionally connected to the Land of Israel”, Rabbi Shore told me, “It is my aspiration that Jews who see our films and participate in our programs will walk away feeling like… ‘Wow‚ I’m proud being Jewish’.”

In 2010 Jerusalem U produced and released a 30 minute documentary called Crossing the Line: The Intifada Comes to Campus. This was followed in 2012 with the award winning PBS featured documentary Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference, narrated by Tal Ben-Shahar and in 2014 they released the unique and intimate documentary about life in Israeli soldiers Beneath The Helmet: From High School to the Home Front‚ which he created and produced with his wife Rebecca Shore. 

Jerusalem U embraces the Raphael Shore philosophy of merging the power of film with some of the Jewish worlds most revered thought leaders. These include Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks‚ Hollywood star Mayim Bialik‚ Elliot Gould‚ Gary Sinise‚ Fern Oppenheim, Alan Dershowitz, and the educator behind Harvard’s most popular course Habits of Happiness, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar.

Jerusalem U’s films are backed up with a range of on-line programs, courses and materials for young people and educators to access which include:

  • Jerusalem U’s gap year leadership initiative providing more than 400 Jewish post high school graduates in Israel, with vital skills to become effective campus activists for Israel and Jews on their return to US campus life;
  • The Core18 Leaders Lab is a selective fellowship, chaired by Rabbi Sacks, Mayim Bialik and Tal Ben-Shahar. The program cultivates social entrepreneurship and innovation, supporting the fellows as they create projects within communities worldwide;
  • The Oz fellowship works with 30 gap year students each year, bringing them together with top Israel experts, to create an elite network of Israel activists when they return to US campuses.

 Beneath the Helmet is perhaps the most important film Jerusalem U and the Shores have produced tBTHPurplehus far. It is a coming of age story that highlights five young Israeli high school graduates, who are drafted into the army to defend their country. At the age of 18, away from their houses, family, and friends these young individuals undergo a demanding journey, revealing the core of who they are and who they want to be.

The filmmakers were granted unprecedented access to the soldiers’ lives and were able to follow the trainee parachutists not only during their grueling training but also off-base with their families and friends. The film illustrates how these young men and women are protecting not only their homes, but the shared values of peace, equality, opportunity, democracy and religious tolerance. The lessons they learn along the way, are lessons that can be adapted, understood and appreciated by everyone.  

“We hope young Jews worldwide will be inspired by this film to stand up for Judaism and Israel in a way that will change the world. Showing the soldiers out of uniform was equally important to us as showing them in uniform.  We wanted to show that beneath every helmet there is a personal-human story and to five a sense of who they are and where they come from.” Says Rabbi Raphael Shore‚ “Give me a million young Jewish people and watch what happens.”

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Photo from the film premiere in Jerusalem with Ambassador Michael Oren

The film is already being shown widely and was accepted to several film festivals. Jerusalem U intends to screen it on hundreds of campuses and communities across the United States and worldwide‚ to provide Jewish youths with powerful role models they can easily relate to and apply the challenges and life lessons these remarkable young Israelis experience, to their own lives.

“Our Federation has very strong advocates for Israel and it has been that way historically and currently‚” said Susan Antman‚ executive director of the Greater Middlesex federation. “But the more information we can supply to our community and the general community‚ the better off we are‚ and Jerusalem U gives us unlimited access to a goldmine of information we can share.”

Jerusalem U creates and distributes innovative and stimulating films and film-based educational programs with the goal of making young Jews feel proud of being Jewish and emotionally connected to Israel.

Jerusalem U:

  • Engages millions of people across the globe with our award-winning films.
  • Educates young Jews by providing exceptional educational programs that inspire a deeper connection to Israel and Judaism.
  • Empowers the best and brightest Millennials to advocate for Israel and to develop groundbreaking solutions for the needs of the Jewish people.

This article was originally published here.