The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee
Sends Area Students to Israel to Participate in “Different Together,” a New Diversity Initiative
This life-changing trip will enable Sarasota students to experience how the power of art fosters tolerance and diversity in a democratic Israel.
(Sarasota, Manatee) The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee (JFSM) is sending eight high school students from Sarasota County schools to the historic city of Jaffa, March 16-21, as part of the “Different Together” initiative. Inspired by the Sarasota-based Embracing Our Differences (EOD), this program centers around an outdoor art exhibit in Israel featuring billboard-sized images and words celebrating diversity. The art and words have been created by Israeli students hailing from different religions and backgrounds. The visiting Sarasota students will attend the exhibit’s opening on March 19. Their itinerary includes visits to Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and Tel Aviv.
The selected students are: Isabelle Mathiasson Ball (Riverview High); Kaya Faith Cornejo-D’oyen (Booker High); Dalton John Drummond (Riverview High); Calli Habermehl (Booker High); Casey Lynn Kabobel (Riverview High); Ambar Lynn Morales-Diaz (North Port High); Chasiti Morgan (North Port High); and Cody Alexander Vega (Riverview High). Paul Gallagher, the assistant principal and coordinator of the Riverview High School International Baccalaureate Program, will accompany the students.
“We’re thrilled to offer these students this tremendous opportunity,” says Howard Tevlowitz, JFSM’s executive director. “These amazing young people live in an age of new possibilities and old hatreds. For them, it truly is the best of times and worst of times. We felt it was vital to give them the opportunity to partake in a meaningful experience that celebrates diversity in Israel.”
The inspiration for this initiative?
According to Tevlowitz, the JFSM consulted with EOD to find a way to bring the program’s message of “enriching lives through diversity” to Israel. In 2013, the Federation found a willing partner: The Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism. This Tel Aviv-based cultural organization works to foster tolerance throughout Israel, promoting programs and initiatives that welcome diverse expressions of religious and spiritual practice and create meaningful connections to Jewish people and organizations around the world.
After months of planning, the JFSM and the Daniels Center created “Different Together,” an initiative that offers students throughout Israel the opportunity to celebrate diversity through art and words. The program’s centerpiece is an outdoor art exhibit in the historic port of Jaffa in Israel featuring 37 billboard-sized images and quotes created by Israeli Jewish, Arab, Muslim and Christian students from Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Tel Mond, and other cities in Israel. The exhibit runs March 19 through April 19.
“The idea behind ‘Different Together’ is simple,” says Tevlowitz. “Everyone has the right to feel safe, to be empowered and to make a positive difference in their community. Our goal is to encourage respect for diversity and inclusion, and to promote the significance of the active rejection of hatred and prejudice in Israel and throughout the world.”
Tevlowitz emphasizes that art has been fundamental to Jewish life since its beginnings.
“Throughout Jewish history, art has been used as a form of remembrance, dedication, and inspiration. From colorful mosaics in Masada, to intricately carved synagogues in Morocco, to children’s drawings found during the Holocaust, art has helped define us and our history. ‘Different Together’ will inspire people, especially young people, to respect the views of others and to reject hatred and prejudice. When we experience these creative, heartfelt works promoting diversity and presented within the historic backdrop of the port of Jaffa, it will be easy to understand that together, we are part of something greater.”
The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee has been a community partner with Embracing Our Differences since 2004. EOD’s mission is to use the arts as a catalyst for creating awareness and promoting the value of diversity, the benefits of inclusion and the significance of the active rejection of hatred and prejudice. The organization’s annual outdoor art exhibit in Sarasota’s Island Park and Bradenton’s Riverwalk features billboard-sized images created by professional and amateur artists, writers and students from this area and from around the world reflecting their interpretation of “enriching lives through diversity.” This year’s exhibits run March 29 to May 22.
The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to save Jewish lives and enhance Jewish life in the Sarasota-Manatee region, in Israel, and throughout the world. In addition, the Federation is responsive when worldwide catastrophes occur. For more information about The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, call 941-371-4546 or visit www.jfedsrq.org.
Caption: (Left to right) Chasiti Morgan (North Port High); Calli Habermehl (Booker High); Kaya Faith Cornejo-D’oyen (Booker High); Ambar Lynn Morales-Diaz (North Port High); Casey Lynn Kabobel (Riverview High); Cody Alexander Vega (Riverview High); Isabelle Mathiasson Ball (Riverview High); and Dalton John Drummond (Riverview High).