JSU’s Danforth Israel Scholars starting new semester

The Jewish Student Union’s Sen. John Danforth Israel Scholars Program (JDIS), educating 10th through 12th grade students about Israel and developing their advocacy skills, will begin a new semester on Jan. 12.

The JSU program is heldin collaboration with the Pardes Program at B’nai Amoona, NCSY, USY and BBYO. The program’s curriculum has recently been revised and updated and, in addition to the original areas of study,  will include studies on the recent war in Gaza as well as upcoming Israeli elections among other current events.

JDIS aims to provide Israel advocacy and leadership training to teens looking to develop their understanding of Israel from a historical, modern and political perspective. The 12-session series offers students a multimodal approach to learning, utilizing engaging speakers from leading Israel advocacy and education organizations around the country, community leaders and multimedia presentations. 

Topics include The History of Zionism; Wars and Peace; Legitimate criticism vs. Delegitimazation; Media Bias; Israel on the College Campus; and Lobbying 101. The curriculum is designed to engender a greater understanding of Israeli current affairs and ethical issues through lively, challenging and interactive programming. JDIS also encourages participants to confront the questions raised by current events in Israel and the impact it has on the larger Jewish community. Additionally, students are provided with hands-on advocacy and mentoring opportunities on both local and national levels. 


The program was developed by Rabbi Mike Rovinsky, the Director of JSU of St. Louis together with David Iken (a 2013 graduate of Clayton High School). 

“The genesis of the JDIS program was in response to an apathetic at best and anti-Israel sentiment at worst,” said Rovinsky. “We need to educate the next generation about our history and the history of Israel and explain to them what is really going on and why the land of Israel is critical to their Jewish identity.” 

The latest edition of the curriculum was written in collaboration with Jerusalem U, a leader in Israel education for teens and adults. 

 The program welcomes applicants from grades 10-12 (9th graders will be considered on a case by case basis). All students who satisfactorily complete the program will receive a stipend of $350 towards participation on a JSU summer Israel experience trip.  Classes will meet for 12 consecutive Mondays from 7:15 to 8:45 p.m., beginning Jan. 12 in the B’nai Amoona Library, 324 S. Mason Road in Creve Coeur.  Refreshments will be served.

JSU is not-for-profit informal education program that serves more than 700 teens in 12 area high schools (Clayton, Crossroads, Ladue, Lafayette, Marquette, MICDS, Saul Mirowitz Community Day School, Parkway Central, Parkway North, Parkway West, Pattonville and Whitfield). 

For more information or to register for the JDIS program contact Rovinsky at 314-696-0578 or  [email protected]  Apply online at tinyurl.com/danforthisrael2014.