July 30, 2007 / 15 Av 5767
Brent Yarkin has long appreciated Israel from afar. Only recently, however, did Brent decide that advocating for Israel from the United States could never be as effective as serving Israel from within its borders. He signed up for the Otzma program, an initiative sponsored by the Jewish Agency and its partners throughout the world that enables 20-26 year olds to contribute to Israel while strengthening their connection to the country by learning firsthand about Israeli society and its citizens. Upon return to the United States, Brent hopes to work as a lay leader and use the lessons he learned during Otzma to inspire the next generation of Jewish youth.
From the time he was a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area, Brent, now 25, has been exploring and discovering different aspects of Judaism. During his college years at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Brent established a pro-Israel group on campus focusing on Israeli and Jewish cultural advocacy.
After receiving his BA in music, Brent was a Jewish Campus Service Corps Fellow in Detroit, and worked for Hillel of Metropolitan Detroit. His love for Israel was triggered by a Jewish Federation Teen Tour and his participation in the Sar-El army volunteer program in 2003.
"I have already studied Hebrew at the Jewish Agency's Absorption Center in Be'ersheva and tutored children in English. I have met so many interesting and inspiring people in Israel."
Brent completed his volunteer work in Tel Aviv, his Partnership 2000 city, where almost everyday brought a new experience including helping children at-risk, Holocaust survivors and children in after-school programs. As part of this experience, Brent also tutored Arab children from the city of Jaffa in English.
Brent just moved to Jerusalem, where he will spend a few months immersed in Jewish textual study at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. "This will most likely be followed by an internship with the Society for the Preservation of Nature in Israel," says Brent.
Upon completing the Otzma program, Brent will stay in Israel to staff birthright israel trips. "I want to share my love and knowledge of Israel with Jews who are coming to the country for the first time on an educational peer trip.”
The Otzma program provides young people with a comprehensive long-term Israel experience that serves to solidify their commitment to Israel and the Jewish people. With your help, the Jewish Agency can continue to support programs like Otzma and to encourage young people to develop their apreciation of Israel while offering vital services to Israelis in need. To learn more about how you can help, click here.