Yemin Orde’s debate program provides a platform for youth to sharpen public speaking and presentation skills, build confidence, and learn to develop arguments supported by facts.

For the fifth year, Yemin Orde Youth Village organized a debate and public speaking program that provided a leadership building opportunity for at-risk youth to express themselves in a public forum. Over several months, participants met with volunteer attorneys at a Tel Aviv law firm who provided guidance in presentation skills, developing arguments and sharpening public speaking skills.

Video of Yemin Orde youth presenting at the Village’s debate club.

Presentations included personal stories and political debate.

Mazal, 18, is in the 12th grade and is originally from Ethiopia. She spoke about racism and about attending demonstrations in Tel Aviv earlier in the year. Mazel said that racism prevents people from truly seeing the “real” person – someone with a family or someone who has challenges and strife in their life. She said “there has to be another way.”

Galia, 16, is in the 10th grade and came to Israel from Russia 18 months ago. Her speech topic: “Who am I?” Galia explained that when she was child she started asking about her Jewish identity. She did not know anything about either Christian or Jewish holidays. She realized, Galia said, that in Israel there are many people from many different backgrounds. For herself, she said, “I am hummus and borscht, Russian and Israeli, Russian and Jewish.”

Solomon, 18, is in the 12th grade and from Ethiopia. He came on stage with his face painted half white and half black. He opened by stating “When I was in Ethiopia, skin wasn’t an issue because everyone is black. Here in Israel, we can be treated as less than human. We need to realize and remember WWII happened because of racism. We need to change and understand there is no difference between white and black. We are stronger together, not alone. We need to stop hating each other.”

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