The iCAN High School Jewish Leadership Program of Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey is designed to address core questions for Jewish students as they prepare for their future in college and beyond. Throughout the 10-session program, participants will study Jewish values, and identify their own personal views and perspectives around Israel and Zionism. Students will learn how to engage in civil discourse with individuals of differing opinions. Through interactive exercises and conversations, we will address contemporary challenges facing the Jewish People.


Sessions will be led by:
Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein
Hillel international, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

The iCAN High School Jewish Leadership Program is for high school students.  There is no cost to participate.
All sessions will be held virtually on Wednesday evenings.  To ensure you have a meaningful experience, we encourage you to attend all sessions. 

Please contact Ariella Noveck at if you have any questions. 

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Finding Myself in Am Yisrael: A People, A Nation, A Nationality

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

In this first class, students will analyze different American perceptions of peoplehood and of the term “Israel,” and consider their own experiences as American Jews, and their own relationships to Israel and Jewish Peoplehood.

Living with Difference: Pluralism, Tolerance and Deviance

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Jewish community is torn by its disagreement around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. How can our community be sustained despite these disagreements? We will explore the sociological categories of pluralism, tolerance, and deviance to gain an understanding of the ways in which Jewish communities can accommodate differences and develop strategies of acceptance and belonging.

Aspirational Zionism and The Israel We Imagine

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

This unit addresses the most essential narratives and assumptions, focusing on those that profoundly impact current thinking, and evaluating what they mean to each student. Once students can better articulate their perspectives based on their own visions and aspirations, they should be able to develop a richer and more tolerant discourse with those who have opposing viewpoints.

Justice, Justification, and Accountability

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

This unit explores the central meanings and implications of justice within our Jewish tradition and the impact they have on our moral responsibilities, and how we think and talk about Israel.

Living with Difference: A Jewish Approach

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

In this session, we will explore two Jewish values; Self-Preservation and Compromise. Learn how primary each of these values are, what are their limits, and what impact they have on how we think about Israel.

Is Nationalism a Dirty Word?

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The debate around nationalism is a critical debate that will impact the viability of Jewish peoplehood and Jewish unity. Israel and Zionism are intimately connected to the idea of nationalism, with Israel defining itself as the nation‐state of the Jewish people. This session will explore nationalism as a concept and how it relates to the state of Israel.

Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

This class delves into the meaning and definition of anti-Semitism and the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti‐Zionism. We will explore whether all expressions of anti‐Zionism are, in fact, anti-Semitism and examine how a commitment to Jewish peoplehood impacts our discourse on this issue.

Heading to Campus: Experiences, Myths, and Realities (guests on the college experience)

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Join us for a panel discussion about how Jewish students on college campus navigate internal differences within the Jewish community, including anti-Zionist, and/or anti-Semitic activities.

Values-Based Communication and My Voice on Israel

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Students will encounter strong value-based voices with different political perspectives on campus. As a culmination of work done throughout iCAN, students will begin to create their final project as an expression of their values-based positions and opinions on the topic at hand.

My Values Statement and Perspective on Israel

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Students will share their projects and reflect on their iCAN journey.

iCAN Parent Session 1:

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Curriculum overview and discussion.

iCAN Parent Session 2:

Tuesday, April 13, 2021
8-9:15 pm

Sharing with parents what your children have learned regarding values-based communication and empowerment

Sessions will be Led by: Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein
Hillel international, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein is the Executive Director of the Center for Rabbinic Innovation at the Office of Innovation of Hillel International and is a member of the faculty of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. A Wexner Field Fellow, she was named one of the Feminist Press 40 under 40 and has received the Pomegranate Prize for Jewish Education from the Covenant Foundation.