MESSAGE FROM DIRECTOR
Dear Parents and Future Participants,
My name is Ariel Benjamin Goldgewicht (my friends call me Bennie) and I am Israel Challenge General Program Director. I’ll be on the front lines with your kids throughout the program. Together with our magnificent staff we will create, manage and share every aspect of perhaps the most challenging and exciting experiences of your child’s young life.
I was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. My father’s family immigrated to Costa Rica in 1932 from Poland, just getting out of danger in time. My mother’s family immigrated to New York from Germany in the late 1800’s. I consider both English and Spanish as my mother tongue and after living in Israel for 15 years my Hebrew is not too bad either.
My childhood was split between NY and CR giving me a chance to experience schooling and cultures in two very different worlds. Growing up in Costa Rica gave me a unique perspective on life as a Jew in the Diaspora. I went to Jewish day school and spent my weekends participating in our community’s youth group activities. It was there that I first began to develop my life’s passion.
After graduating high school I went with all my friends to Israel for a year program similar to the one I am now running. I studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem International Relations and Ancient History, and serve 3 years in the Army in a Special Forces unit. Upon completion of my service, I worked for the Ministry of Defense for another 5 years. During that time I continually volunteered with a Youth Movement. I loved working with young adults; sharing with them and guiding them was very meaningful. Seven years ago I left the Ministry of Defense to pursue my passion of giving back to Jewish youth from all over the world. This has become my life’s work.
I began working as The European Director for Hanoar Hatzioni, directly in charge of all of our educational emissaries in the European continent. I have traveled all over Europe and had a chance to see how diverse communities maintain their Jewish identity in the Diaspora. I’ve seen the challenges young Jews face and listened to the concerns of their parents; Israel challenge is the result of these years of experience. The modern identity vacuum which has overrun our youth together with the secondary effects that we face by living in a cybernetic era pushed us to create this program.
I am fortunate to wake up every morning and dedicate my life to my passion; running Israel Challenge is very demanding but I love every second of it. We have a chance to make a lasting impression. I believe that we can change the world… one participant at a time.
I am confident that I bring to the table unique abilities to provide your young adult with an experience that will deepen their commitment to the Jewish People, increase their self-confidence and help prepare them for whatever challenges they will face in the future.
I look forward to share this exceptional experience with you and your kids. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.
Ariel Bennie Goldgewicht –Director of Israel Challenge