Australasian Union of Jewish Students

LDP Tobi Rosengarten

LDP Tobi Rosengarten

I have learnt how to better develop and express my ideas, and feel more confident to tackle obstacles that arise when creating and implementing projects in our community.

AUJS LDP Testimonial by Tobi Rosengarten, Victorian Campaigns Director and Susan Wakil Fellow in 2017.

 

I did not attend a Jewish High School, so after reconnecting with my Judaism and exploring Israel during my 10-month gap year, I was looking for a way to maintain involvement in the community. My involvement with AUJS began through my attendance on the Political Training Seminar in Canberra (March 2016). It was during the trip to Canberra that I became aware of an incredible leadership opportunity AUJS offered; Leadership Development Program. Having heard such incredible stories from past participants, when I was offered a spot on the trip I accepted without hesitations. What I saw before me was the chance to develop both on a personal and professional level, as well as gain knowledge that I could utilise to help AUJS move forward. I was expecting a fast paced, intense, exciting and exhausting program, and that’s exactly what I got.

 

After a short pre-departure seminar where we developed our understanding of the Australian Jewish Community, we flew out to America. Right from day one we were meeting with inspirational leaders from across the spectrum of Jewish organisations. From BBYO to Hillel International, and AIPAC to J-Street our schedule was full of workshops developing our leadership styles and facilitation skills. For me it was this first week that I took the most away from, in particular many ideas beginning to form of potential projects to implement when home. The following week in NYC emphasised the sheer enormity of the American Jewish community. We were lucky enough to meet with some incredible Jewish leaders including Rabbi Bob Kaplan and David Harris, amongst many others. I felt totally in awe of the amazing projects being run by members of the community, both for American Jews and society at large. The American portion of our trip came to a close after 2 short weeks and we headed to Budapest.

 

Week 3, spent mostly in the Jewish quarter of Budapest, provided an insight into the nature of a post-WII European Jewish community, still endeavouring to rebuild and reinspire. The dedication and creativity displayed by communal leaders illustrated to us the limitless ways that exist to engage with our Judaism, and encouraged us to think outside the box when looking to create new pathways into AUJS. The rich history of Hungarian Jews was still visible, but it was the innovative and modern organisations such as Minyanim and Camp Sarvas, targeting youth, that we found most interesting.

 

We celebrated the new-year after arriving in Israel then headed straight to the World Union of Jewish Students Congress. Meeting with Jewish students from all around the world facing similar challenges and moving towards similar goals was an uplifting experience, as we worked together to build relationships and new ideas. The intense 5 day conference came to a close and we began to explore the country once more. In our remaining week and a half we toured Hebron, Bethlehem, Metullah, the Jordanian border, Kibbutz Nahal Oz and of course Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. We were exposed to the ancient and modern sides of Israel, and to opinions and stories that shed some light on the complex nature of the conflict. The breadth of viewpoints we heard enabled us to continue our own discussions throughout the tour, and feel more confident to speak about Israel when home. As a group we had become incredibly close and were excited to return home with new ideas and fresh perspectives to share.

 

The trip concluded with some debriefing of the non-stop 6 week journey, including some project brainstorming, feedback sessions and group bonding activities. I have learnt how to better develop and express my ideas, and feel more confident to tackle obstacles that arise when creating and implementing projects in our community. Through the experience of LDP, I developed a particular interest in encouraging young Jewish adults to engage with their Judaism through tikkun olam, and am pursuing this agenda through both my position as Victorian Campaigns Liaison and my involvement in the Susan Wakil Fellowship.

 

LDP would have been a completely different program without our madrich Tal Shmerling. His facilitation of us individually and as a group allowed us to become better leaders. I am honoured to be a past participant of LDP, and hope that all future AUJS and Jewish Community Leaders have the opportunity to experience this program too.