This will be the 17th year that a select group of Jewish collegians, as members of the Do the Write Thing team, will have its own prestigious place in the General Assembly.
For this 40-member cadre, most of whom staff their campus Jewish and/or secular newspapers, the GA will be more than a place to learn about and participate in organized Jewish life. They will also have the opportunity to sharpen their journalistic skills while deepening their understanding of what the community does -- and how it does it.
Do the Write Thing is sponsored by The Jewish Agency and the Hagshama department of the World Zionist Organization, with some sessions coordinated by the American Jewish Press Association.
Hagshama translates to 'fulfillment,' explains New York-based Hagshama emissary Ofer Gutman. "We believe that one way to achieve 'fulfillment' and find a personal connection and engagement with the Jewish state is through programs such as this," he says. "It also helps these students to be better equipped to make Israel's case on campuses."
The GA, he adds, "is a great place for these students to meet Jewish leaders, and to establish friendships with each other."
In addition to being at major GA plenaries and sessions, DTWT participants will attend press conferences with visiting dignitaries and hear, in sessions exclusively for them, from such eminent people as Gary Rosenblatt, publisher and editor of The Jewish Week (New York), and Rob Eshman, editor of The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, about "Covering Israel in the American Jewish Press." Meetings with Israeli journalists and workshops with members of the American Jewish Press Association also are on the agenda. For many DTWT alumni, participation proved to be a step toward a professional career. Gil Hoffman and Miriam Saviv are on the staff of the Jerusalem Post. Dan Schifrin is director of literacy programs at the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and Marita Gringaus was press officer at the Consulate General of Israel in New York. Rustin Silverstein, who served as press secretary for Rep. Tim Roemer of Indiana, was also a producer at "Hardball With Chris Matthews."
"Do the Write Thing," Silverstein says, "helped me understand the craft of writing from a Jewish perspective."
As a result of a visit during last year's DTWT program at the Toronto GA by Laura Kam, director of the Washington-based Media Fellows Program of The Israel Project, participants learned about the project's fellowship program.
"Several students applied, and two were chosen, " Kam reports. "They proved to be excellent media fellows," she says. "They were sincere students who were intent upon pursuing Israel advocacy."
"I hope to make more connections this year through Do the Write Thing," Kam says.
Keren Douek, assistant editor of the St. Louis Jewish Light, says DTWT confirmed for her that writing for and about the smaller, more specific and personally relevant Jewish world, was an intriguing concept. "There is nothing like it," she says.