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May 5, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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May 5, 2017
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 5, 2017 PAGE 7P s to Sami Kuperberg and Rayna Exelbierd. On April 6, more than 100 students, their parents and Orlando residents at- tended the first "Answering Difficult Questions About Israel" workshop at The Roth Family Jewish Community Center in Maitland, Fla. Itwas organized by Spark Orlando and the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. Repre- senting StandWithUs were Ron Krudo and Rayna Rose Exelbierd, who presented the program. Israel is so often a topic of conversation these days that it is no surprise that pro- Israel people are challenged regularly on their support for it. For close to two hours, they educated attendees on how to identify tough ques- tions, methods for critical thinking and provided facts to answer some of the com- mon questions raised about Israel. Ron Krudo, 26, an Orlando native experienced this first hand at Lake Mary High School. "I was asked difficult questions, such as 'Is Israel intentionally attacking in- nocent Palestinians?'" As the son of two Israe- lis, Krudo's love for Israel is grounded in his family's history, but this love isn't enough to share the story of Israel. He encountered StandWithUs at Florida State University and it provided him the education and tools he needed to tell Israel's story with the facts to back it up. Upon graduating, Krudo took the position of Executive Director of Campus Affairs. Rayna Rose Exelbierd, 25,had a similar experience at Florida Atlantic University with faculty administration reluctant to respond to anti- Israel actions by Students for Justice in Palestine. "Stand- WithUs supported my efforts, I became an Emerson Fellow and upon graduation am now the Southeast High School Coordinator," she said. "The Land of Israel and the central role its plays in Judaism is constantly on the minds of Jews across the globe. SWU, expertly represented by their two well-spoken ambassadors Ron and Rayna, did a great job of presenting the facts and helping us enage those who attack Israel with a productive, well-reasoned ap- proach," said Sarah Gittleson of Spark Orlando. One amazing student lead- er, Sami Kuperberg, recently dealt with an anti-Semitic/ anti-Israel incident at Oviedo High School. Exelbierd saw Kuperberg's Facebook post go viral (see photo) and reached out. Nine-year old Parker Cohen volunteered to read it out loud. Silence..: and then shock when Exelbierd asked the audience, "Does this high school look familiar? Does this seem like it could be written by your neighbor or someone you carpool with? What if I told you it was writ- ten by a teen in this room?" Everyone searched the room and Kuperberg was asked to stand up. The audi- ence cheered. She shared her story, empowering the group to stand up and be proud of their love for Israel. Kuperberg exclaimed, "It was an incredible program that taught me, and everyone in the room how to respond effectively to the hate we may receive. I have been using the skills and methods that I learned in my daily life, not just to stop students from being anti-Semitic, but to educate them at the same time." Kuperberg's actions en- ergized the room and there was no trouble findingvolun- teers--including Tracey Ka- gan and her daughter Sophie Cohen--to participate in a technique that demonstrates how to properly respond to anti-Israel comments. StandWithUs was founded in 2001 after the second Intifada and soon realized the need for a college pro- gram that selects and trains student leaders on how to educate about Israel. Five years ago, it realized that education needed to start earlier and formed the High School Internship. There is now a program for middle schools. After yet ANOTHER incideat t lay at sCkeo wlbem R Freshman threatened 1o come to sdlmeJ im a l zi outfit and scream at me in just n bad a temporary lattoo of ae Israei glag on m lt fium a 8BYO convenlJ a fewago. I stronger and sUoeg . ery | hes | m W change the wodd more As JSU (JewLsh Student Union) ati the first time EVE t gel so hamd in mySml paperwork dOht in Worn of eke pdlctp o stand up towards it then we me acl as bad as mesei e mB mur a conune or or sorJnmm So I f'cdsh with a famo " rst they came for she n out because I was not a TIIsm rely, mmm the trade unionist sod I m spmlk out tl was not a trade tb jV me fw Jews. and I dld not speako Jew. Then they cxme fix me, md ms m) left to speak for me." Write a comment ..... ~J Sami Kuperberg's post of her Facebook page. Krudo and Exelbierd are excited that the High School Internship has been success- ful in Orlando. In attendance was alumni Dor Lotringer's family. Lotringer graduated from Lake Brantley High School. He attends USF on a full-ride scholarship he earned from a StandWithUs program he organized called the "15 Second Challenge." Stand on page 15A