Program to involve ‘full spectrum’ of Jewish teens


Kaleidoscope Israel @ 60, the year-long, community-wide celebration of Israel’s 60th anniversary of independence will involve “the full spectrum” of Jewish teens and youth groups in our community, according to Richie and Tommy Gallant, co-chairs of the Kaleidoscope Israel Teen Committee.

Tommy Gallant, 15, a sophomore at Parkway Central High School, and Richie Gallant, 18, a senior at Whitfield School, described highlights of the Kaleidoscope Israel teen programs in a recent interview with the St. Louis Jewish Light.

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Along with their parents, Steve and Amy Gallant, and grandparents, Paul and Diane Gallant, Richie and Tommy Gallant are overall co-chairs of Kaleidoscope Israel, which has planned a full calendar of activities for the entire community. Diane Gallant said, “We are so proud to see our grandsons taking an active role in the Kaleidoscope Israel anniversary year.

“It has been exciting to hear their ideas and watch them transform those ideas into reality. It is amazing to see so many teens in the community involved. They are our future. Paul and I and Steve and Amy believe we are in good hands,” she said.

Richie Gallant and Tommy Gallant said that their trip to the State of Israel with their parents and grandparents had deepened their understanding and commitment to the importance of the State of Israel, and the need for the American and St. Louis Jewish communities to continue supporting the Jewish State.

“We wanted to make sure that we had a solid educational program as part of Kaleidoscope Israel,” said Richie. “So on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m., we are bringing in David Bryfman, former director of Secondary Education at the Central Agency for Jewish Education,” he said.

The program, titled “Love Humor & Tension in the Holy Land” will take a fun look at today’s Israeli society by checking out what Israeli teens are downloading onto their iPods and watching on TV. Politics, social issues, and everyday life will be explored. The program will be held at the Jewish Federation Kopolow Building and is open to St. Louis teens.

“We met David Bryfman a couple of months ago and liked the way he relates to kids,” said Tommy Gallant, “and we are very glad to have him kick off the teen portion of Kaleidoscope Israel.”

Bryfman, a Wexner Fellow, is currently a doctoral student in Jewish Education at NYU focusing on informal Jewish Education.

The Gallant brothers said that they have met with “tons of Jewish youth groups and individuals and have great support from BBYO, I-tag, the Israel House, JSU, NCSY, NFTY and USY,” Richie said.

Added Tommy, “We have a special teen committee with representation from all the youth groups working on a special Yom Ha’Atzmaut program at the JCC on May 4. We wanted to do something to show support for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and we thought it would be neat if we could have a kind of IDF Boot Camp, where we could experience what Israeli soldiers go through as they prepare to defend their country.”

Richie Gallant said, “We are working with the Jewish Federation P2K committee to bring in two soldiers in April from Yokneam/Meggido, our Partnership 2000 region. We are in the early planning stages, but we really want to help our teens understand and feel what Israeli kids have to go through when they do their military service.”

The Kaleidoscope Israel Teen Committee and I-Tag are spearheading the May 4 Yom Ha’Atzmaut program at the JCC. The committee has representation from every St. Louis Jewish youth group and teen organization. “We want to have a program for all St. Louis Jewish teens to enjoy as they celebrate Israel’s independence,” said Tommy.

“The afternoon will include a falafel eating contest, sports and games, community service and will end with a performance from comedian Joel Chasnoff. We are excited with the depth and scope of what we are planning. Israel must deal with the full spectrum of emotions and feelings all the time, and we want our events to capture those feelings as best we can,” commented Richie.

Tommy chimed in, “We have great cooperation from the community and it’s fun to be a part of this exciting year.”

Kaleidoscope Israel is funded by the Lubin-Green Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

For more information on all aspects of Kaleidoscope Israel, contact Karen Rader at 314-442-3756.

Published Jan. 30, 2008