Josh here, the Rakaz (coordinator) of Bonimot Tzedek, Gilboa’s year-round social justice education program for high schoolers. Today I looked at my calendar and was shocked to see that it’s almost December! I knew the date in my head, but there’s something to say about how fast time flies by when your days are filled with Gilboa community, social justice education & activism and organizing experience. And with this realization, I’d like to take a moment to share what an exciting year it’s been so far in Bonimot Tzedek (and of course, as always, Gilboa in general).
The Bonimot Tzedek program consists of three parts and all of them have consistently shown me how passionate, smart & empowered Gilboa teens are. I’m pretty lucky to work with such an awesome group of inspired youth. The following is a reflection on some of what’s gone on in each of the three aspects of the program so far this year:
Social Justice Education
It’s only been three months since the end of camp, but the Tzedek participants have managed to gather all together for two weekend long seminars of in-depth learning & fun!
Tzedek seminar, an event only for high schoolers, saw the group make their way up the mountain in mid-October. While it was slightly colder than we were all used to down the mountain, it was a wonderful gathering. There the group explored their identities - as Jews, youths, progressives, Californians - and challenged themselves to understand how these identities can help us make change for ourselves and our communities. Further, the group came together to decide on their work project for the year. Continuing to build our partnership from last year with Bend the Arc (an amazing local Jewish changemaking org), the group chose to learn and work on justice for Immigrants. This issue has proved increasingly salient as debates grow about the fate of so many people today searching for safety, refuge & a new home. It was a powerful moment to see teenagers caring to commit their time and energy to helping better themselves, the lives of their neighbors and their communities.
Hands on Hadracha (Leadership) Experience
The second seminar, Fall Seminar (in mid-November) saw the Tzedek group dipping their feet into the leadership role. 9th and 10th graders played the role of Madatz (CIT’s), culminating in running an alternative-reality, Thanksgiving themed justice adventure for the younger kids at the seminar. They planned the skits, ran the stations, and in general created an exciting, magical adventure for everyone - it was a lovely way to end Fall Seminar.
The 11th graders were especially impressive as they stepped into the role of Tzevet (staff), acting as full madrichimot (counselors) during the seminar. They received preparation from experienced Gilboa leadership and worked alongside experienced madrichimot. The group really stepped up - they provided a fun atmosphere, great activities for the kids, and managed to have fun themselves! Check out Sophia's thoughts on her first experience as a madricha in our Fall Seminar blog post.
In addition to being leaders for Gilboa campers, the Tzedek participants are leaders in Gilboa's organizational partnerships. You can find us in different communities across California throughout the year. Tzedek participants work alongside more experienced tzevet (staff) to be mentored in hands-on situations.
Activism & Organizing Skills
Fall Seminar ended with the younger kids going home and the Tzedek aged kids staying later to work on their justice projects. In Tzedek, it's important that we aren't just learning Gilboa values but also practicing how to bring the change we want to see in the world.
The Northern California group decided they wanted to run their own educational events for local synagogues and JCCs starting in January. It is a way to both better their own communities AND help bring justice for immigrants, inside and outside of the Jewish community.
In Southern California, for their project during the first half of the year, the group chose to help support and attend a protest hosted by our community partners, Bend the Arc. Not two hours from LA, immigrants are receiving inhumane treatment in detention centers run by the government. The Tzedek group decided to stand up along with others in the Jewish community to demand justice for our immigrant neighbors simply trying to find a better life for themselves and their families. The group learned about the protest and thought about how they can support it, specifically by rallying the Gilboa community around attending the event. It’s coming up on Dec. 9th and we hope to see everyone there!
You can fill out this interest form to let us know you’re thinking of attending!
It’s been an exciting year and we can’t wait to continue with the learning, working & community building.