PHOTOS: Clockwise from top left: High school interns Mazzi Katzen, Suretta Plawner and Ben Rosenfeld, and SWU Northwest high school speaker Aviv Attia. Below right is Rayna Davis, Emerson Fellow at the University of Oregon.
StandWithUs has announced its 2021-22 Kenneth Leventhal High School Interns and Emerson Fellows, which include three high school and one college student in Oregon.
The local Leventhal Interns are Benjamin Rosenfeld, a junior at Catlin Gabel; Mazzi Katzen, a senior at Lakeridge High School; and Suretta Plawner, a senior at St. Mary’s Academy.
University of Oregon sophomore Rayna Davis is the Emerson Fellow.
This year, 150 students were selected in each program from 150 schools throughout North America. In August, both programs completed their respective virtual conferences, and students walked away energized to begin educating about Israel and combating anti-Semitism at their schools.
At the conference, students learned how to identify and combat anti-Israel campaigns. They explored the history of Israel and reviewed the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also met with their regional coordinators. Aviv Attia continues as the StandWithUs Northwest high school speaker and Matthew Levin stays on as the Northwest senior campus coordinator.
“I am thrilled that we’ve grown to having three Leventhal Interns in Portland,” says SWU Northwest Executive Director Randy Kessler. “Students were drawn to join the programs because they wanted to learn more about Israel; but now, the rise of anti-Semitism in their schools and communities has become a motivating factor. Ben, Mazzi and Suretta, together with Rayna, are exceptional young leaders. I can’t wait to see what kind of creative programs they bring to their schools, synagogues and the broader Portland and Eugene communities.”
Created in 2012, the StandWithUs
Kenneth Leventhal High School
Internship trains juniors and seniors, who identify their school’s educational needs when it comes to Israel and anti-Semitism and receive the tools to meet those needs.
Mazzi says she joined the internship to “strengthen my abilities and have the proper knowledge and resources to educate and help guide my community on Israel and to address anti-Semitism.”
Through the internship, Suretta aims to “develop a more articulate understanding of Israel and its relationships with surrounding countries.” At its conclusion, she “hopes to feel more prepared to face certain challenges on a college campus.”
When Benjamin first visited Israel with his family, he came away with a deep appreciation for its culture. “I learned a great deal about Judaism and the history of Israel,” he says. “Back in Portland, I became more aware of the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric. I knew the internship would be perfect, because it would help me improve my Israel knowledge, teach others in my community and combat anti-Semitism.”
Founded in 2007, the StandWithUs Emerson Fellowship is a prestigious one-year program that trains, educates and empowers pro-Israel student leaders on campuses.
After transferring to a public school from a Jewish day school, Rayna experienced much anti-Semitism. “I hated the feeling of being isolated or attacked for being proud of who I was and for sticking up for my homeland,” she says. Rayna joined the fellowship, “with the hope of educating others about Israel and anti-Semitism, thereby making a difference in the way people feel about Israel and the Jewish people. This has always been a huge passion for me, and I felt the fellowship was a perfect opportunity to grow, learn and make a difference.”