A class session, Shagrira, Argentina
Shagriria- Training Israel´s Young Ambassadors in the Diaspora
Location:Buenos Aires, Argentina
Name of implementing organization:Centro Hebreo Iona
Date of initial project approval:February 2008
Brief description of the local Jewish community
Argentina is home to the largest Jewish community in Latin America, which numbers more than 250,000. 200,000 live in Buenos Aires. The main organizations within the community include the JDC, the Jewish Agency for Israel, AMIA, the Argentinean Kehila, DAIA (the representative political umbrella organization for the local Jewish community ), and the Vaad Hakehilot (Argentina's federation of small Jewish communities). Major challenges facing our community are assimilation, anti-Semitism, and the influence from Venezuela(Chavez) inside our country.
The Iona Hebrew Center is situated in the center of “Villa Crespo”. Most of the local families are middle or lower class. Our community numbers 350 families, and we have 300 students in our primary school Iona Jai.
Project aims and objectives
To stimulate young Jews to learn more about Israel and Judaism; to provide them with leadership skills; and to train them to be Ambassadors for Israel in the Diaspora
Shagriria organizes seminars where young Jews in the Diaspora can develop as potential ambassadors for Israel in international forums, congresses, model UN's, and other special events. These young ambassadors will stand up for the State of Israel, openly and compellingly. They will strengthen the bonds throughout the Jewish people, while participating in forums where their voices can be heard.
Our groups are composed of young people with leadership, negotiating, and public speaking skills, and a strong interest in international affairs. Before each mission, the strongest members are selected to represent Israel in the international event in which we will take part. We have formed two groups of participants, divided according to age. They attend both lectures and practice courses. Some of the specialists who work with Shagriria include: Erwin Viera, Natalio Steiner, Damian Svalb, Claudio Goldman, Sergio Widder, Marisa Braylan, Meir Wajsol and Uriel Aiskovich.
Shagriria’s members participate regularly in model United Nations. These models were created almost 50 years ago and are very popular around the world. They are known to facilitate development of future world leaders. Participants in a Model UN take the role of diplomats, and represent the nations and organizations which comprise the actual United Nations.
Just like at the actual United Nations, there are many situations in the model United Nations in which the most outrageous accusations are made about the State of Israel. Often, Israel is represented by young people who do not believe in defending it, or do not have adequate tools and arguments to do so. Shagriria aims to participate in as many model United Nations as possible, throughout Latin America, in order to stand up for Israel and correct misconceptions.
Main budget elements
- Study materials
The project's successes
· Since its foundation in 2007, Shagriria has completed six missions.
· In every UN Model in which Shagriria represented the State of Israel its students have received the highest distinctions: Quito(Ecuador) 2007, Guadalajara and San Luis de Potosí(México) 2007, Santa Cruz de la Sierra(Bolivia) 2008, Santiago de Chile(Chile) 2008, and Cuernavaca (México) 2008. Those who heard our young people admitted to changing their perception of the State of Israel.
Difficulties encountered along the way
The biggest difficulty encountered was that the program could not be finished with a trip to Israel, as hoped. This was because several donors dropped out, as a result of the latest economic crisis.