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Gabe Carimi joins the Chicago Bears
There’s a new Bear in town—and he’s Jewish!
Gabe Carimi, former co-captain and star offensive lineman of the Big Ten champion Wisconsin Badgers was the Chicago Bears’ number one draft pick in 2011. At 6 foot 7 and 327 pounds, Carimi has already been appropriately nicknamed the “Bear Jew” after the character from the movie Inglourious Basterds; his other nickname is the “Jewish Hammer.”
As a former Badger myself, I was excited to chat with Carimi about his time at UW-Madison and his new home in Chicago.
Originally from Lake Forest, Carimi grew up in Wisconsin, which begs the question: Bears or Packers?
“I grew up being a Packer fan, but obviously found the error of my way and now I’m glad I’m on the Bears,” Carimi said. “I really did go into the draft process [thinking] the Bears would have been the best place for me to be. And I was really excited to get drafted by them.”
Going into his first season as a Chicago Bear, he is most excited about playing in his first NFL game.
“I’m always going to try to achieve the best…” Carimi said. “Eventually I want to be working hard enough to be an All-Pro player. I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work [but] it’s nothing I’m not used to. Throughout college I had to work hard to get to where I was so [I’ll] just keep working hard to try to become a great NFL player.”
To say that Carimi worked hard in college would definitely be an understatement. In addition to his many accomplishments on the field—he received the Outland Trophy for his performance as offensive lineman, was named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, and he received Marty Glickman Outstanding Jewish Scholastic Athlete of the year award, to name a few—Carimi also made Academic All-Big 10 for all four years, maintaining above a 3.0 as a civil engineering major, which is no easy feat.
Carimi said his favorite football memory at Wisconsin was beating longtime Wisconsin rival Ohio State during a night game—which us Badgers know is the most exciting time for a game. Though he says he will miss Madison—the lakes and the cool college atmosphere of his hometown—he is looking forward to life in a big city like Chicago. He is also excited about getting involved in Chicago’s Jewish community.
“I’m very proud of my Jewish identity,” Carimi said. “I have fasted on game days for Yom Kippur and [broke the fast] right before the game, I know Matt Bernstein [former fullback for the Badgers] did that too. I look up to him and he did it so I felt strongly about doing that too.”
Growing up, Carimi and his family went to a reform synagogue, Temple Beth El in Madison, and Jewish tradition was an important aspect of his family life.
“We always went to Temple on Friday nights,” he said. “Seeing that love and faith made me want to be strong in my religion.”
He does not view his Jewish identity as an obstacle for his professional football career.
“I looked up the next 15 years Yom Kippur won’t happen on a Sunday, so it really helps out.”
And with his height, stature, and skill on the field, Carimi is literally crushing the stereotype that Jews are not good football players.
Lastly, I asked Gabe the question Jewish mothers all over Chicagoland wanted to know—is he single?
“Haha, no I’m not single. I’m sorry, Jewish mothers all over Chicago.”
Bummer. Well, Bear Down, Bear Jew! See you in September!
What if a science experiment could prove whether you'd found 'the one?'
Is he or she "the one?"
If you're, well, human, you've probably asked that question about a past or present mate at some point in your courtship. What if you could conduct a scientific experiment to test the answer to that universal question? In the new quirky romantic comedy film, Losing Control, (A PhD Production)—which premieres in Chicago in June—Samantha Bazarick (played by Miranda Kent of TV's Campus Ladies) tests just that.
Samantha, played by Miranda Kent, is a Harvard biochemist, looking for Mr. Right.
Samantha, a sweet and neurotic Jewish Harvard biochemist working on her Ph.D., has discovered the Y-kill protein. Four years after her discovery, though, she has yet to replicate her results. Outside the lab, Samantha's frustrated as well. Her boyfriend of five years, Ben, (played by Reid Scott, of My Boys) proposes, but Samantha rejects him, and sets out—on a series of dating mishaps—to find proof whether he's Mr. Right.
Written and directed by Valerie Weiss, the film is loosely based on Weiss's real-life experience as a Jewish woman getting a Ph.D. in biophysics at Harvard—minus the part about finding proof that her husband is the one. "I wanted to make a movie about that time in your life when you're dating and thinking about who you're going to end up with," says Weiss, a young Jewish filmmaker living in Los Angeles, who is 9 months pregnant with her second child. "I thought a female scientist would offer a unique perspective to that universal question about love."
Samantha questions whether she should marry her boyfriend Ben (Reid Scott).
The film comes to Chicago as part of the third annual "Twix Presents: TBS Just for Laughs Chicago" comedy festival, taking place June 14-19. "Just for Laughs" and The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago will present five nights of independent comedic shorts and feature films, including "Losing Control," playing Saturday, June 11 and Tuesday, June 14. The films will take place within Indie Comedy—The Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy, created at the Gene Siskel Film Center to support independent filmmakers.
Jeffrey M. Loeb, a young Jewish Chicagoan active in the Jewish community, is the executive producer of the film. "As a native Chicagoan, I am excited for all my friends and family to get a chance to see the movie they all have heard so much about," he says. "While film festival and college campus audiences have loved Losing Control, these Chicago screenings are our first opportunity to show that a diverse, big-city audience will love it too."
Weiss wrote Samantha as a Jewish scientist because she wanted to defy the notion that science and faith can't mix. "People always think science and faith are so different or that scientists aren't superstitious but if you grow up a certain way, it's going to affect your way of thinking," Weiss says. "Samantha's an analytical scientist, but she very much has the neuroses and inconsistencies that her mom (played by Lin Shaye, There's Something About Mary) does. There is science but there is also a plan and God and they can both work together."
Valerie Weiss, the Jewish writer/director of the film.
With so much technology and education out there today, the younger generation of 20 and 30-somethings think they can control their lives—even their dating lives—more easily than their parents' generation, but some parts of life just can't be controlled, says Weiss.
Also in contrast to their mothers, today's generation of young women, Weiss says, have tougher decisions to make when it comes to settling down. "Now that women are just as career-obsessed as men, it's a much harder decision to make about whom they end up with," she said. "It's harder to figure out how they're going to balance everything so finding the right person is more of a puzzle than it ever was."
For tickets to the Chicago screenings of the film, visit http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/losing-control
A girl’s sexual status is a metaphor for how well she fits into the American ideal of femininity.
–Leora Tanenbaum, author of “Growing Up Female With A Bad Reputation, Slut!”
When I was 10 years old I bought a pin that said, “Trust in God. She’ll provide.” From an early age, I was a self-declared feminist.
I grew up in a house of all women, as one of three daughters, and early on, I became aware of the complexities of gender, with parents maintaining very traditional gender roles, while encouraging us girls to grow up and become president some day—as long as we got married…to a doctor, or a lawyer. None of us are president yet, but we are all feminists. I have my oldest sister to thank for introducing me to feminism at a young age. She was starting college at the time and had discovered the women’s studies program at her school. She came home aglow with information for me. I later followed in her footsteps and got a women’s studies minor at college.
Being a feminist takes on a different meaning for each woman who ascribes to feminist theories, and the movement itself doesn’t judge or measure. However, I do think a little knowledge is a powerful thing. Many young girls and young women accept misogyny, objectification, slut-bashing and even rape as normal elements of society because they can’t put their finger on why they shouldn’t. It’s everywhere. As the feminist phrase goes, “The personal is political.” Perhaps we need to check in with ourselves and with society around us more frequently than we actually do.
As Jewish people celebrate Israel’s independence this month and prepare for Israel Solidarity Day featuring the Walk with Israel at the beginning of June, another walk is under way—a march, in fact.
The level to which women have been “liberated” in America has room for improvement. Canada recently sounded the alarms and the world is listening. Canadians were outraged when a representative of the Toronto police service this past January told women they should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized. This statement sparked the organization of the first-ever SlutWalk, a sexual assault awareness event, April 3, 2011 in Toronto.
The SlutWalk movement caught on like wildfire in a matter of four and half months and satellite SlutWalks are now being organized all over the world, including in our own backyard—and two vocal Jewish women are behind it. Slutwalk Chicago, which is scheduled to take place from 12 to 3 p.m., Saturday June 4 in Chicago’s loop is being organized by Jewish Chicagoans and co-founders Jessica Skolnik, 32, and Jamie Keiles, 19.
“I think we make a pretty great team!” Jessica says. “I'm an older grump who cut her teeth on riot grrrl and Jamie is a whip-smart younger woman who has tons of ideas and enthusiasm.”
Jessica, a DC area native, is a survivor of sexual assault and has been involved with feminist and labor organizing and activism for more than 15 years. Jamie, a first year at the University of Chicago and a Pennsylvania native, is known for her social experiment “The Seventeen Magazine Project,” (a blog project examining the messages in the teen magazine). She’s working on her first book, a guide to media and culture for teens.
Jessica and Jamie met over the blogosphere and decided to join forces in organizing the walk. More than 2,500 people have RSVP’ed on SlutWalk Chicago’s Facebook page.
Check out my interview with Jessica below:
Why is it so hard for society to get rid of the “slut” label? What does it mean for a 2011 population to “reclaim the word ‘slut’”? What signs will we see when we’ve made progress?
The word "slut" has been thus far a pretty effective way to judge and control the sexual behavior and bodies of marginalized people, which is why I believe it's stuck around so long. Nasty and systemic stuff.
I actually am not personally invested in reclaiming the word 'slut'… I'd like the concept to disappear off the map entirely, as I don't think "sluts" exist (nor do "prudes," on the other end of the spectrum). It'd be really beautiful and liberating to live in a world free of judgments about others' consensual sexual choices and behavior, and that's the world I'm pushing toward.
Is the main focus of the march raising awareness about sexual assault and perceptions, or is there a larger mission about how society perceives women?
It's really both, which is something that can be hard to communicate sometimes. I do believe that the SlutWalk name has the ability to kindle a discussion about the connection between sexual double standards and victim-blaming in a culture that normalizes rape as "just something that happens" and implies that experiencing a rape [is] something the survivor should be ashamed of.
SlutWalk’s mission statement talks about “uniting people across diverse populations.” What types of groups has that included and what groups are you hoping to reach?
We'd really like to reach people across all boundaries—across class lines and color lines, regardless of gender or sexual self-identification, regardless of ability, regardless of creed or religion.
In what ways is this cause personal for you?
I was assaulted by acquaintances at 13 and date-raped at 18, and in both cases had the support of my parents and a few friends but was really hurt by authority figures who were "supposed" to help and support me. I filed a police report at the encouragement of my school counselor when I was 13; my report was never followed up on and the officers who took my statement were extremely judgmental towards me, implying that I had brought the assault on myself because I hadn't been a "good girl." When I was 18, I reported what had happened to me to the college I was attending and was only offered a "mediation" with the people involved in the assault (who refused to be part of it); I still had to share the (small) campus with them until I transferred schools (which I did as soon as possible). (There's more to both stories, but I'd rather not go into the gory and triggering details.) I've seen the system fail over and over again for myself and other survivors. I've had the nastiest slurs hurled my way because of what I've survived. If there was ever a cause for me that was deeply ingrained in my experiences, this is it.
Do any of these efforts fit into your identity as a Jewish woman? What would you hope Jewish women took away from the message of this walk?
My family is Jewish in heritage but I was not raised observant; my ties are mainly cultural. I've always really identified with and liked the fact that there is such a sense of community responsibility and support in the Jewish community, and I see that reflected in this walk. This march is an educational one, one that hopes to push cultural boundaries toward more respectful, thoughtful and healthy territory.
Why do you think the message of this walk is important for a Chicago audience and also for uniting Chicagoans?
First of all, Chicago is a huge and diverse (if not notably stratified and segregated) city with a storied history of socially progressive activism. We've got a lot of really amazing allies in the Chicago area and we're really excited about a coalition of activists and general citizens meeting up and learning from one another at this event.
Secondly, this event feels particularly timely in light of some of the news we've seen recently (the Tiawanda Moore case, for instance, which goes to trial right before the walk, or the Rogers Park police sexual misconduct/assault case) throughout the city. There's never an inappropriate time for an event like this, as (unfortunately) the theme is always resonant, but it happens to be something that's been in the headlines here as well.
Which communities/people do you find are most risk of sexual assault and why?
Honestly, I don't believe that any one community is more at risk than another. Sexual assault is unfortunately something that happens across many different types of boundaries, which is one reason we're so invested in this being an equitable movement that is accessible to all. The thing is, sexual assault isn't about sex, it's about power and control, about gaining a sense of power through the humiliation and pain of another human being—so those who are most at risk are often those who in most situations have less power or are more marginalized because we're viewed as more vulnerable.
Can you talk more on the idea of a culture that teaches “don’t get raped” as opposed to “don’t rape,” mentioned in your literature?
One of the main problems with telling people how to behave in order to not get raped (besides the fact that it's based on myths about what sexual assault looks like, why it's perpetrated and how it occurs) is that it puts the responsibility for the assault onto the survivor as much as the perpetrator. It also presupposes that that's just "how things are," that it'll never change, and that there's no problem with the way things are—when there is very clearly a problem with a world in which women's personal choices, bodies and clothing are policed, and in which simply being a woman in public space is perceived as an invitation to harassment and possibly assault. Moving the responsibility onto the perpetrator—and ONLY the perpetrator—is thus both not only the just response but a mark of a cultural shift away from shame and toward healthy and open discussion of human sexuality as well as sexual violence (though they both contain references to sex, it bears reiterating that sexual violence actually has nothing to do with sex as a motive—sex is a tool in that case used to overpower and control another person). Too many of us aren't taught what it means to make an informed choice to engage in sexual behavior and what crossing the line into nonconsensual behavior looks like.
What do you hope for the next generation?
I'd love to see a world in which consent training is taught in schools as part of sex ed, where nobody is afraid to occupy public space for fear of harassment, where young women aren't taught to compete and to tear one another down, where harmful gender binaries aren't reinforced over and over again by pop culture. I'd hope for thoughtful and nuanced conversation around these topics instead of hate speech and mudslinging. That's probably one hope too far, but, you know, dream big.
I'd also like to see education about sexual assault survivors' support and consent for lawmakers, for lawyers, for medical professionals, for school counselors and psychiatrists, for police—for anyone in a position of authority who might touch a survivor's (or potential survivor's) life. I'd love to see really thoughtful conversations focused on support and understanding come from this march.
As mentioned on Toronto site, they hope this conversation continues. Do you hope that for Chicago too? In what ways do you plan to put that in place?
Absolutely. We hope to continue the conversation through a blog but also through broader coalition-building and further programs with other organizations; one of the projects I'm personally hoping to work on is a consent training curriculum and program with the SHEER Collective.
When Jewish author Bruce Feiler was five years old, he was struck by a car while riding his Schwinn bike, breaking his left femur. More than 30 years later, he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in that same femur. Whether the accident and his illness were related or mere coincidence, he will never know. Recognizing that his cancer could be life-threatening, he feared that he may not watch his 3-year-old twin daughters grow up, that he wouldn’t be there to guide them through the twists and turns of life. That sparked in Feiler the idea of “The Council of Dads,” where he invited six men from all passages in his life to convey important life lessons to his daughters in the event that he didn’t survive.
Thankfully, Feiler has triumphed over his cancer and been in remission for two years. He writes about his experience and the lessons the men taught his daughters—and ultimately Feiler—in his book The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could be Me (William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers). The author spoke in Chicago in March and returns to Chicago on Wednesday, June 15 to speak at Ravinia Green Country Club Day in Riverwoods. Oy!Chicago conducted a phone interview with the author at his home in Brooklyn this spring.
Oy!Chicago: Why did you want to write the book?
Bruce Feiler: I wanted the experience of asking each one of these men the one piece of advice they would give to my girls. I was so inspired by their answers that I wanted to gather it in one place so that my girls could have it some day. [I wrote a letter to my girls] that appears at the end of Council of Dads with all of the wisdom there in one place: Approach the cow, pack your flip-flops, don’t see the wall, tend your tadpoles, live the questions, harvest miracles. This advice was meant for the girls but I’m the one who really needed it.
What were the criteria you used for picking your council of dads?
When I first had the idea, I didn’t want to tell my wife. She’s a very upbeat person and I thought we should focus on the positive. But then, the next day I told her and she loved it, but she quickly began rejecting my nominees. It was an unexpected way to learn what my wife thought of my friends. Then, we made a set of rules to guide us such as no family, only friends—family would already be there—and your friends know you differently. Next, only men because we were trying to fill the male space. Then, intimacy over longevity because some of the newer friends would capture the dad I wanted to be.
You mention that one of the unexpected gifts is telling each of these men what they mean to you. Have you made a practice of this even now that you’re healthy?
This is one of the biggest pieces of advice that I give to people—sit down with your closest friends and tell them what they mean to you. It’s an incredibly rare thing that we do and yet it’s very powerful. Anybody who has ever touched illness or been through a difficult circumstance in life is so moved by the people who come swarming around you in this time of difficulty. I try to use direct emotion and communication with my [loved ones every day].
You talk in the book about this more enlightened type of males who talk about their feelings and their kids. Do you think men are evolving?
Are you suggesting that we’re getting closer to what you women are already? Memo to women: Men have feelings too. We just happen to express them in different ways. In fact, watching sports, fishing, or towel-snapping can be emotional. It’s not that men are evolving, but that men have more permission to speak openly about their feelings today, especially with other men.
What have you learned from this experience?
I don’t wear the experience as a burden on my shoulders. I wear it as an engine on my back that propels me to get out of bed, take a hand, take a walk, make a memory every day.
If you were asked to be in a Council of Dads, what is the most important “daddyism”—as you call it—that you would advise?
I was a walking guy, who had written the book Walking the Bible. But [when I was sick] I didn’t walk for almost two years. I just came to love the idea that in Paris 200 years ago, men of leisure would take turtles for walks and let turtles set the pace…take a walk with a turtle, behold the world and pause.
For more information on The Council of Dads or to learn how you can start your own council of dads or moms, visit www.councilofdads.com.
Jason Silberman, a grandchild of survivors, paid tribute to the enormous contribution Holocaust survivors have made to the Chicago community in passing their legacy of courage to future generations at the 66th annual Holocaust Memorial Observance held May 1. Sponsored by She’erit HaPleitah of Metropolitan Chicago, the umbrella organization for Chicago-area Holocaust survivor groups, the service traditionally is the largest gathering of Holocaust survivors in the Midwest and one of the largest in the United States.
“Zachor”—The Hebrew word meaning “remember,” has evolved throughout Jewish history, and has rightfully become somewhat of a commandment and challenge to generations of Jews living after the Holocaust. But as new generations are born into this world, and the generation of Holocaust survivors is becoming smaller and more fragile every day, the commandment of “Zachor” is becoming more challenging and at the same time more important than ever.
All four of my grandparents were survivors of the Holocaust. They were the only members of their families to survive. My father’s parents were Esther and Tobias Silberman, Zichronam Livracha (may their memories be for a blessing), and my mother’s parents were Joseph and Mania Birnberg, Zichronam Livracha. As a third generation of Holocaust survivors, I know the challenge of carrying on my grandparents’ stories and legacies. Because three of my grandparents died before I reached the age of 12, I was unable to ask questions or talk at all with them about their experiences in the Holocaust. Unfortunately, I am one among many grandchildren of Holocaust survivors who never reached out to their grandparents to ask them about their lives in Europe. Which brings me to a question—how can one remember what they don’t yet know?
At our Passover seders just a few weeks ago, we stated that “B’chol dor va’dor, Chayav adam Lirot et atzmo ke’ilu hu yaztah m’mitzrayim,” that “In every generation every person must see themselves as if they were brought out of Egypt.” How do we connect to an event that happened so long ago? We ask questions of our elders and teachers and look at the sources of the Passover story in the Torah. In order to effectively transmit our grandparents’ experiences and legacies, we must not only study history through the textbooks we read in school or during class field trips to the Holocaust museum. We must ask questions of the survivors and of our parents. Survivors—keep telling your stories and stories about your families and your life before, during and after the war. Children of survivors—talk to your children and tell us what you know and what you remember of your early childhood. Tell us as much as you can about our grandparents—what they told you verbally and through their behavior. Like the four sons in the Haggadah, there are those of us who have asked, those who don’t care to ask, and those of us who don’t know to ask, but that doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility to tell us what you know. And to my generation, it is our responsibility as direct descendants of the Shoah to tell our grandparents’ stories to our friends, to our classmates, to our co-workers, to our teachers and to the world.
With social media such as Facebook and Twitter, the sharing and spreading of stories and knowledge of the Holocaust has great potential. But there are also people who use these means to deny the Holocaust and to spread hatred against Israel. It is the responsibility of the third and fourth generations to use social media productively to help others become more aware and knowledgeable about the Holocaust. During this Holocaust remembrance week, for those of you who use Facebook, every day post a status telling a short story about how your family members survived the Holocaust or about others who were lost during the war. It is through these productive methods of sharing stories, that others can know about and thus remember the atrocities of the Holocaust.
Every year that goes by, we become more removed from the Holocaust, and our ability to connect and sympathize with Holocaust survivors becomes harder to channel. However, the obligation to remember becomes more important than ever. Despite the difficulties, I remain confident that the leaders of the third generation will make certain that the legacies of Holocaust survivors and their families will live on in the future. Though the generation of Holocaust survivors is diminishing, my generation and all future generations will grow more determined to zachor…to remember, to carry forward your stories and legacies, and to never forget.
Coach Mike Krzyewski, known by fans as Coach K, is more than a coach—he’s basketball legend and a motivator of many. The head coach of Duke University men’s basketball team was also the first US National Head Coach in USA basketball history, was named “America’s Best Coach” by Time magazine and CNN, and he has several national championships and Olympics medals he’s got under his belt—not to mention he’s a bestselling author and a native Chicagoan.
Motivated yet? Coach K will talk about what it means to be a team player both on and off the court at the JUF Marketing & Media and Real Estate and Building Trades Divisions Dinner Monday, May 2 at 5 p.m. at the Sheraton Chicago.
Oy!Chicago: What did you think of this year's March Madness and the success of the underdog teams?
Coach K: Well I’m not sure there are underdog teams anymore. I think there are more publicized teams and we’re one of them—just because of the reputation and the conference you’re in…The three point shot [and the age of the players] has been a great equalizer and it’s caused tremendous parity in our sport, which could not have been more evident than in this year’s tournament.
How did it feel to get your 900th win?
We’ve reached 900—and I say we because when a coach does something like that, all his players, and coaches my family—they’re part of it… it’s a collective honor.
I specifically thought about my mentor and my great friend Coach Knight who leads Division one with 902 (wins) for a coach and his point guard, I was his captain at the US Military academy, to be the first two to reach 900 I’m not sure that would ever happen again.. It’s very unique. So I share that time very emotionally and a special moment with coach knight who is a big part of who I’ve become as a coach.
What would you say is the biggest accomplishment of your basketball career?
I don’t want to minimize what has happened at Duke because that’s what I do, but the honor of coaching the national team for our country has been the biggest honor… you see our flag being raised and the anthem being played and your hand’s on your heart and there’s a lump in your throat because you know you’ve been part of a World Championship or the Olympics—those are incredible moments.
Who do you think is the greatest Jewish basketball player of all time?
That’s a difficult question—if you think about it there are many. The most special Jewish player for me is the one who led us to a national championship, Jon Scheyer, who’s on my team. He’s my favorite Jewish player of all time and one of my favorite young men of all time.
How do strategies on the court translate into strategies for life?
It’s better to do something as a team than it is do something as one individual. If you have a group of people who are acting as individuals under the same name you will achieve a certain level of success, maybe. But if you can get everybody on your team to work as one, everybody will prosper, and the team will have the best chance to achieve great success. I tell my guys all the time, two is better than one, if two can act as one.
What was it like growing up on Chicago’s north side?
I grew up almost a mile and a half directly north of the United Center –now Ukrainian Village, but it used to be a big Polish community. I love Chicago. I think it’s the greatest people city in the world. It embodies all cultures, it puts its arm around every nationality. I’ll always be a Chicagoan and pull for our teams—the only thing is Duke isn’t in Chicago. But my heart’s never left there.
For more information about the JUF Trades, Industries & Professions Division (TIP) dinner season click here.
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Start here. Go further.
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With Shorashim you experience the adventure of Israel through the eyes of Israeli peers. Shorashim is the Taglit-Birthright Israel program where all groups travel for 10-days with Israelis your age. Visit http://israelwithisraelis.com for info.