Home News and Media M² Blog How global organizations are inspiring advocacy and action for hostages using Everyone Counts

How global organizations are inspiring advocacy and action for hostages using Everyone Counts

Explore how different organizations are utilizing Everyone Counts’ storytelling and art-focused resources to contribute to the cause.

It has been more than 140 days since the terror attacks of Oct. 7, and 134 people are still held hostage in Gaza. To ensure that the hostages remain top of mind, and to help individuals identify how they can contribute to the cause, educators and organizations are turning to Everyone Counts: The #BringTheHomeNow Educational Toolkit. Everyone Counts is a collaborative effort between Rachel Goldberg and Jon Polin, the parents of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who was taken hostage, and M² and Kol HaOt, who also partnered with the Jewish Education Project.

The values-based educational collection is resonating with everyone — from educators to global organizations — inspiring people of all ages, affiliations, and backgrounds to take action and call for the hostages’ release. For example, La Organización Sionista Mundial, the World Zionist Organization in South America, was one of the first organizations to utilize Everyone Counts resources for their local branches. Their team translated BBYO’s “Bring Home the Hostages Tu B’Shvat Seder” into Spanish and shared it with communities across Latin America.

Read on to explore how two other organizations are utilizing Everyone Counts resources to spread awareness of this critical issue through art, storytelling, and more.

Uniting people through storytelling

Honeymoon Israel (HMI) is one organization making the most of Everyone Counts. HMI, which provides immersive trips to Israel for cohorts of couples, aims to help young couples feel welcome in the Jewish community and inspired to deepen their connections to Jewish values and traditions on their own terms.

The group serves a diverse audience, says director of educational talent, Lynnley Miller, and that’s what makes Everyone Counts such a good fit. “It feels like an accessible entry point for everyone,” she said. “It features deep Jewish wisdom and values presented in a way that all participants – both Jewish and non-Jewish – can really engage with.”

The staff used the resource, “Every Human has a Story,” which leverages storytelling to share more about individual hostages and highlight common values. Now, they plan on adapting it for a virtual program featuring Rachel Goldberg, who will share more about her son, Hersh, beyond the pain of his captivity. The storytelling format is well aligned with HMI’s priorities, says Emma Dunn, midwest regional director of community engagement.

“We want to tie the lives and experiences of the hostages and those who love them to a story that people can easily remember,” she said. “We want our community to recognize that there’s so much more to their stories.”

Central to the toolkit is the biblical concept of Pidyon Shvuyim – the redemption of captives. The mitzvah has deep roots in Jewish history, and the HMI team wants to further explore it with their community through storytelling. The facilitators also plan to close with ways U.S.-based audience members can advocate for the hostages’ release, and recite the prayer for redeeming captives.

Miller says the resources have already inspired deep conversation. “They’ve given us an entry point into engaging with a topic that is very important,” she says.

Inspiring action for hostages through art

Another educator who has found creative ways to connect her students with Everyone Counts is Professor Marion Gribetz, who is a Kol HaOt faculty member and Kol HaOt Teacher Institute for the Arts mentor, as well as a Hebrew College faculty member. Moved by the installations at Kikar Chatufim – Hostage Square in Tel Aviv, as well as those across Israel, she began photographing them. Soon, she had photographed a whole series, and written reflections to accompany her shots, but she wasn’t sure what to do with them. When she heard about the opportunity to contribute to Everyone Counts, it clicked.

“I knew I wanted to use these pieces in some way to inspire action, inspire emotion, and inspire people,” she said. “Art is a great way to express feelings and bring awareness and knowledge.”

Her photos are featured in the resource, “Every Person is an Entire World,” which asks participants to consider how artistic expressions can inspire us to remember the hostages. Not only did she contribute, but Gribetz is also using it as a tool in her own teaching. For the online course she teaches on spirituality and Jewish education, she uploaded the toolkit’s lesson plan and resources directly to the course materials.

“I’m asking graduate students to reflect on how art can help activate people’s spirituality and care and connection to the Jewish people,” she says.

Gribetz is hopeful that it will inspire her students to care for others, feel connected, and aspire to make the world a better place. As active educators teaching in Jewish settings themselves, she expects to see some of them bring the resource into their own classrooms.

“I believe the message transcends this particular horrible moment in Jewish history,” she says.


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