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Panim el Panim - An Insider Look at Washington

For eight years, the Lorraine and Jack N. Friedman Commission for Jewish Education (CJE) has provided area teens with the opportunity to put Jewish values into action and witness the federal legislative process firsthand through participation in the national Panim el Panim Program. Locally, program expenses are subsidized through the generosity of Michael D. and Marilyn T. Winer.

The program helps inspire the participating teens’ commitment to service, advocacy and political action and shows them how they can make a difference in the world through their engagement. It is an ideal program for Jewish teens interested in political or social activism. During the four-day trip as well as several local preparatory learning sessions, Winer Panim participants learn how to lobby and advocate for an issue with which they identify.

While in Washington, in addition to participating in learning sessions, the teens toured the Capitol, governmental agencies, the Smithsonian museums, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. They also had firsthand experience with homelessness and the Occupy DC movement in McPherson Square, and participated in community service projects.

“I learned about what I could do in order to better my community,” said Annaka Skavnes, who participated in this year’s Winer Panim trip. “Unlike the community service that we do for school, the things you do here make you feel like you are part of something much bigger. Panim el Panim changed my way of thinking.”

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Visiting U.S. Senator Bill Nelson's congressional office (D-FL) during their Panim el Panim experience in Washington, DC are Gabrielle Eisner, Heather Piotrowski, Zoe Chia, Sen. Nelson's staffer Jessica Eisner, Lee Pritz, Melissa Dinkin, Stephanie Conway, Josh Fern, Jessica Falk and Hayley Fahrer.

During her second Panim el Panim experience, Hayley Fahrer worked with A Wider Circle, which provides basic need items to more than 1,000 children and adults every month. “I was very inspired by the idea that a group of people could do such good and actually make a change in people’s lives,” Hayley said.

Hayley and other local participants also presented to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s legislative assistant regarding homelessness in Palm Beach County. “I got some really great feedback and received a few ideas for me to help and make a difference right here in my own community,” Hayley said.

CJE’s annual Winer Panim program brings teens to Washington every winter. Next year it will expand its scope to include stronger preparation prior to the trip and support for student implementation of programs at the local level.

Students who are interested in participating in this program of political and social activism must submit an application. Contact CJE Teen Education Associate Joey Abrin at 561-209-2616 or Joseph.Abrin@JewishPalmBeach.org for more information.

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