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Junction

Partner Program Spotlight: YESOD Kaplan Fellows

"I strongly believe that to share ideas and to get to know new people is the first step to bring changes in your life and the outside world. That's why I think that it is always very important to create new opportunities to meet other Jewish young adults who are involved in European Jewish communities." - Valeria Milano

This past January Junction partnered with YESOD during their Kaplan Fellows Community Institute in Rome for an evening of Cocktails & Dilemmas with young Roman Jewish adults.

Valeria Milano was our partner in organizing this event being both a Kaplan Fellow and a local Roman. Valeria left Rome after high school for a year in Israel with Hashomer Hatzair and since then she has become passionate of Jewish associations. She lives in Rome where she is studying Political Science and she has been working for two years at Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael office in Rome.

Throughout the past few years, she has been a part of different Italian projects for Jewish students, because this is a way to keep her connection to Judaism and to the Jewish world. We interviewed Valeria about her experience working on this partner evening.

Valeria in her own words… “Last January I took part in the Yesod training for Jewish professionals and I volunteered to organize an evening exchange for Italian and European Jewish young adults. When Junction asked me, I was really happy to help to organize a Junction evening! I had experienced similar situations in the past and I always came back with positive feelings, wider prospectives and new energy.”

Q. What should people know about the Italian Jewish Community?

A. I think that in the Jewish community in Rome and in Italy, in general, there are very good and smart young adults who would love to get more involved in the community but most of the time they feel a bit lost, and not connected enough. I love to put people in contact with one another and create networks between people I know from my community and European Jewish communities. I knew that people I had met in Yesod had a lot to teach and share with my friends in the Italian Jewish community and vice-versa. That’s why I wanted to help to create this network.

Q. What lead you to help with the Junction Evening?

A. I strongly believe that to share ideas and to get to know new people is the first step to bring changes in your life and the outside world. That’s why I think that it is always very important to create new opportunities to meet other Jewish young adults who are involved in European Jewish communities. These meetings always create a new and strong energy. Even for those who do not speak English, it’s a good time to share with your own partners new ideas. It’s a great time to get new inspiration and create networks even in your own city.

Q. What surprised you about the Evening?

A. After the evening people were feeling enthusiastic! The Italians were positively impressed to meet people who are doing the same job or volunteering that they are doing but in other countries.

At the end of the night, I had a long conversation with a few friends and even though we already knew each other, we found out that we both have a passion for chevruta learning and that it would be great to learn and to start a new project together. I don’t know if or when it will happen, but I am sure that a new energy and strength were in the air that night and I loved it!

Q. What is your Jewish involvement now?

A. I am a Zionist jew and for a long time, I wished to make Aliyah. Then I realized that my future was to stay in Italy, as a diaspora jew, and every time I meet Israelis or tourists I tell them how important Jews are in the diaspora! Most of the time even Israelis forget about it. I think that we have a very important role in our country; our communities have such a great and wonderful history and it’s a shame that only Jews know about it. Italian Jewish communities are diverse and rich with great culture and history! We have so many different traditions in just one country!

Q. What excites you about the Jewish future?

A. As much as we learn Torah and we love to say to ourselves that we have a great education, we should be more curious, never stop being interested and open to what is around us. This is something we (Roman Jews) miss sometimes and I hope we will work in the future to be more open and flexible to one another.

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