From New York City to Jerusalem to Budapest, participants in the Jewish Social Leadership Training Program gathered in the office of Jerusalem’s Memizrach Shemesh  January 4-10 in the first of a series of meetings designed to engage participants from vastly different Jewish communities in Jewish values and traditional texts as sources for solutions to contemporary social issues. Though the exchange has run for several years now, this is the first time it has included Jewish communities from three different countries.
The exchange, funded by Partnership 2000 and the UJA-Federation of New York, is a three-semester joint program through the Bronfman Center at New York University, Memizrach Shemesh-The Center for Jewish Leadership in Israel and Marom Budapest.
Using traditional texts as their basis, participants spent their first semester understanding what poverty is, how it is measured, and why it is important to break down related stereotypes. At the end of the semester each group is intended to spend time learning specifically about poverty at the partner city of the exchange.
When asked what the greatest social problem facing each country was, Israeli participants were united on one issue: the working poor. “People work a lot,” said Israeli participant Sara Levinger, “and they still don’t make enough money to survive.”
Through the course of the year, the groups will focus on issues related to education and leadership and rejoin in Budapest and New York to familiarize themselves with how these communities are individually affected by these issues.
For the full text written by Memizrach Shemesh volunteer Lauren Wilner, please see the article published on eJewish Philanthropy .