Connecting With People

Two University of Oregon undergraduates are the visionaries behind a new initiative launched this past week: Shomer Achi.

One of the many projects incubated this summer at the PresenTense Institute, Shomer Achi is an international organization that acts to strengthen Jewish identity and Jewish unity by fostering sustainable and community based connections between Israeli and American Jewish college students through parallel social service initiatives, dialogue, and leadership training.

In the words of co-founders Jodi Mererowitz and Jamie Zebrak:

“Shomer Achi presupposes an urgency to shift the Jewish self perception. For too long, true dialogue and understanding has been stifled by pre-existing modalities that limit the scope of the Jewish experience. America has either been the generous donor of aid to Israel or Israel has served as protector of disenfranchised Jews worldwide; a hierarchy of power that has served as the only framework within which Jews in Israel and the Diaspora have cooperated.

It is time for us to explore a world in which Jews everywhere can work together and contribute to one another. Our communities are able to cooperate as equals adding mutually to the greater goal of facilitating and enhancing the Jewish experience. Shomer Achi does not suppose that Israel now needs to ‘take care of’ America or that America needs to be the beneficiary of Israel. It is necessary to switch our understanding of how Jews worldwide can move forward and achieve greater cohesiveness as a people.”

Shomer Achi already has a pretty impressive list of partners, including B’Tzedek and Haifa Hillel, along with a few long-time and well known communal names on their advisory board. I have a hunch we will be hearing a great deal more from these two young women.

Not only are Jodi and Jamie Cool People, they’re people to watch!