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From LA to Tel Aviv

The Jewish Federation’s Global Teen Twinning Program is the largest student delegation program in the Jewish world. Every year, 600 students in 6th-10th grades from 40 schools in Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, and Vilnius, Lithuania participate in this transformative program. They live in each other’s homes, study in their partner schools, and experience the local culture firsthand.

Since its inception in 1997, this powerful program has supported more than 60,000 middle school and high school students, parents, and faculty who built lasting relationships with the greater Jewish community and the state of Israel, through reciprocal student delegation exchanges, jointly prepared curricula, and teacher training.

Max Levin participated in our Twinning program 10 years ago with De Toledo High School and Tichon Hadash in Tel Aviv. The Twinning program impacted his life in many ways. Today, he is a Junior at Columbia University and will be interning at J.P. Morgan this summer. Read more to learn how Twinning changed his life. Max — todah rabah for your service!

When I was growing up, I used to visit Israel every summer. However, participating in the Twinning Program was my very first experience living in Israel as an Israeli.

I remember being most fond of the freedom and self-reliance that all of the Israeli kids had.

But, I came to understand that with all the freedom comes a lot of self-discipline and responsibility — I learned when it was okay to go out and party and when I needed to go home and work. Israel was the first place where I started to discover who I was. This led me to finish high school and return to Israel on the Young Judea Year Course program, where I served as a volunteer medic for half a year. For the first time, I felt that I was beginning to give back to the country that had given me a sense of who I was, which I believe is the most important lesson of all.    

Following my time as a medic, I joined the Israeli Defense Forces, enlisted in the Paratroopers, and served in Operation Protective Edge, putting my life on the line for the country that gave me a true understanding of what it means to live life to the fullest. And even after being injured, I made sure to return to my unit as quickly as possible so I could help my team and continue to protect the people, the land, and each other for the next nine months in the West Bank.

Without the Twinning Program and my self-discovery in Israel, I would not be the person I am today.

The Global Teen Twinning Program engages Jewish youth in the U.S., Israel, and Lithuania in personal and meaningful Jewish relationships that enable them to build a strong sense of Jewish identity, affinity for Israel, and commitment to the Jewish people.  

To learn more about The Jewish Federation’s Global Teen Twinning Program, please email MKetayi@JewishLA.org.


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