Teen applicants sought for Danforth Israel Scholars program

Pictured are the graduates of the spring semester of the Sen. John Danforth Israel Scholars Program with Rabbi Michael Rovinsky (right) and David Iken (second from left). The program is now seeking teen applicants for its fall semester. 

The Jewish Student Union of St. Louis (JSU) is now accepting applicants for the fall semester of its Sen. John Danforth Israel Scholars Program.

Last spring, JSU launched the program — 26 high school students gathered together each week to engage in Israel education and grapple with many of the issues surrounding her existence. Eleven participants went on to participate in the AIPAC Policy Conference, two participated in the Saban Leadership Seminar, and two will be serving as students interns for Stand With Us during the upcoming academic year.  In addition, several others spent their summer in Israel on various summer programs.  The Danforth Israel Scholars program was designed to address the need for greater education and understanding regarding Israel from both a historical and modern perspective. 

The program was developed by Rabbi Mike Rovinsky, director of JSU of St. Louis, together with David Iken (Clayton High School ’13). 

“Over the past few years, I have seen that Jewish teens were apathetic at best and anti-Israel 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.”


Iken and fellow JDIS founder, Lila Greenberg, identified the need as well, and stated “we realized that many teens know very little factual information about Israel.“

The 12-week program focuses on the history of Israel and its centrality to the identity of the Jewish People.  Students will also have the opportunity to attend AIPAC Policy Conference and lobby our elected officials on a national, state and local level. 

The curriculum is designed to engender a greater understanding of Israeli current affairs through lively, challenging, interactive programming and to encourage participants to consider, confront and contend with the issues, dilemmas and questions raised by current events in Israel and their impact on the Jewish world.

 Danforth, a former three-term senator from Missouri and the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, praised the organization. 

“I’m proud of the work that JSU is doing in our state to inspire future generations of Jewish leaders and to educate them on the importance of the State of Israel,” he said. “I’m honored to have my name associated with this outstanding program.”

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, which run every Monday evening from 7:15 to 8:45 p.m. beginning Sept. 30 through Dec. 16, meet at the Jewish Community Center Staenberg Family Complex’s Multi Purpose Room, 2 Millstone Campus Drive.  Refreshments will be served.

For more information or to register for the program, contact Rovinsky at 314-696-0578 or email [email protected] Apply online at tinyurl.com/danforthfall2013.