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Bensonhurst JCC, Brooklyn, NY, USA | JCC Manhattan, NY, USA | JCC of Greater Washington, Rockville, USA | Kivunim, Beer-Sheva, Israel | Balint JCC, Budapest, Hungary

About the Project

The Hamsa JCC Global Madrichim Fellowship is a project that brings together teenagers from five different communities in America, Hungary, and Israel for a two-year program of community building, world travel, Jewish Peoplehood exploration, and fun. The program includes:

  • Summer 2015 – travel to Budapest: group-building, touring, and exploring the Jewish community of Hungary and attending the international Jewish youth camp, Szarvas (June 26-July 7, 2015).
  • Winter 2015 – travel to Israel: touring Israel while addressing the connection between Israel and the participants’ own Jewish identities.
  • Summer 2016 – option to work in a local JCC summer camp: teenagers from Israel and Hungary will travel to America to work as shlichim in summer camps joining their American peers.
  • Throughout the year – workshops to prepare for their travel experiences and local program opportunities for further connection.

The participants have the opportunity to explore their individual Jewish identity and to connect with the global Jewish community using skills acquired during the fellowship in actual programs with their peers.

The project’s purpose is to develop young Jewish leaders within the five communities and to train them as madrichim for summer camps and youth programs.


$125,000 for three years, plus in-kind and fees from participants


  • Teenagers have been recruited in each of the five communities and have committed to the two-year program.
  • A joint seminar for teenagers and coordinators took place in Budapest and at the Szarvas International Jewish Youth Camp.
  • The participating fellows were given a much wider view of the global Jewish community and have been inspired to learn even more and open up to Jews all over the world for connections and friendships. [Budapest]
  • A strong group with good interpersonal relationships has been built.
  • Training sessions have been held, addressing questions of Jewish identity and commitment to the community.
  • Hamsah has definitely created a great model for leadership training.


Fritz Zsuzsa photo“JCC Global is a network of people that you can ask help from and not feel alone in your tasks. People from whom you can get new ideas for new initiatives and programs. A back up system for the work that you do.” [Zsuzsa Fritz, Director, Balint JCC, Budapest, Hungary]


Lev Inball photo“For Israelis, being exposed to a wide array of Jewish identities was very important.” [Inball Lev, Kivunim, Beer Sheva]



Blishteyn Gelena photo“The teens who participated in the project became a network of professionals. This was probably the most transformational effect of the project. In addition, these teens are now planning programming for their campers and other teens, taking into account their peers from around the world. They are aware of Jews in other parts of the world in everything they do from now on.” [Gelena Blishteyn, Chief Operating Officer, BensonHurst JCC, NY, USA]

  1. The JCC Global Hamsah fellowship showed me that there is not just one way to be a Jew. It also taught me that being Jewish does not mean being religious, for Judaism is also a culture but moreover, a story about history. I loved the pluralistic mind-set and the openness about talking about very serious topics from different viewpoints.” [Participant from JCC in Manhattan, New York]
  2. Going into JCC Global’s Hamsah fellowship I knew that I would be changed because of it but, I had no idea what the extent of that change would be. After Hamsah, I now feel that I am a better leader, more confident, and more aware of what is going on in other Jewish communities. In addition I learned how to be okay with being uncomfortable. By being thrown into a foreign country with 17 other strangers, you learn how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. I now feel more confident to go into situations where I might not know anyone which I feel is an important life skill that many people do not learn until they get much older. I owe so much to Hamsah and all the friends and experiences that helped me become who I am today. I now feel like a better and more improved version of myself than I was a year and a half ago when the program was first brought to my attention.” [Participant from JCC in Manhattan, New York]
  3. It was a very inspiring experience for me to meet all these young leaders in training from the five different communities and see them bond and connect within the first five minutes of their acquaintance. It showed me the strength of the global Jewish community and that no matter where you come from there is a strong Jewish connecting threads.” [Participant from Budapest]
  4. One of our goals is to inspire and help foster a connection between our teenagers and the Jewish community. In an interview we conducted, teenagers mentioned they were interested in looking into being Jewish professionals after seeing the type of work and impact they could have on people’s lives.” [Participant from the JCC of Greater Washington]
  5. On Hamsah’s last trip to New-York, we did a program on group dynamics. We analyzed how groups form, storm, norm, and perform. As we sat in a circle discussing each stage, I realized how Hamsah exceeded each one. We formed, stormed, normed, and performed together magically. It is very rare for a group to gel so well and the fact that we did was very special. Words cannot describe how lucky I feel to have met each and every one of the Hamsah members. They inspired me to be more enthusiastic about life and taught me that Judaism has endless meanings. I will look back and remember that choosing Hamsah was one of the best decisions I ever made because it changed me forever.” [Participant from JCC in Manhattan, New York]
  6. I want to say a big thank you for all the people who gave us this opportunity, and put money and effort in it! But I also think that it’s not over we had fun together, we worked and learned together, now it is our time to continue, and give back something. I hope that with the help of the JCC we can create something. JCC Global Hamsah project  made me realize the importance of the Jewish community. That even when it’s hard you can never give up! “ [Fanni Abonyi, Balint JCC, Budapest, Hungary]
  7. I’m very thankful for this amazing experience , I met new people , who are not only my friends for a lifetime but my second family. I hope we can see each other soon and create something amazing together in the Jewish community.” [Villő Szenyán, Balint JCC, Budapest, Hungary]
  8. The biggest impact we have seen is the raised awareness of Jewish communities outside of the US and the similarities between all Jewish teenagers and their ability to connect.” [Rebecca Hoffheimer Boots, JCC of Greater Washington]