Alumni participate in GESHER Festival of Jewish Life

Gesher Festival of Jewish Life is a program of JDCRegions. Hosted in Bulgaria, Gesher is a 4 day festival of Jewish learning and professional development, through various activities, lectures, discussions & workshops, which reinforce the diversity of each person’s Jewish identity.

This May, alumnae Amanda Winer and Sarah Glickstein represented Challah for Hunger at the festival. We asked Amanda and Sarah to share some photos and reflect on their experiences:

Sarah Glickstein is an alumnus of Lehigh University. She started a chapter of Challah for Hunger at Lehigh in 2011 after one of her friends from Indiana University told her about the organization. Sarah recently completed my Master’s degree in International Education Policy at Lehigh, and has been involved with CfH on a national level, serving as an advisor and member of the Fundraising Committee.

Sarah’s Reflection:
I did not set any definitive expectations before the Gesher conference. Amanda and I discussed the powerful opportunity that we would have at the conference to promote the values of Challah for Hunger while learning about similar advocacy work that is being done in the Balkans. I was most excited to interact with young adults from around the world and discuss our Jewish identities, beliefs, and involvement.

At the event, I was able to speak with many of the “Gesher Makers” who planned every detail of the conference. The team was comprised of people from different countries, all coming together to make the weekend a seamless success. I was able to speak with one woman, Daria, more extensively at a workshop devoted to sharing personal stories about participation in Jewish life. Daria had participated in BBYO, attended Jewish summer camp, currently works at the JCC in Bulgaria, and was one of the “Makers” of Gesher. In high school, I participated in NFTY, attended and staffed Jewish summer camp, and have been involved in local Jewish community events throughout and beyond college. When we were asked to go around and introduce our partner, Daria began by saying, “We found that we are very similar.” Moments like these were my favorite part of the Gesher weekend. It was amazing to compare stories with others from across the world, sharing our similar passions and goals for the future of Jewish life.

Amanda Winer is a Doctoral Student in Education and Jewish Studies at NYU.   She’s been involved in Challah for Hunger as a chapter coordinator at Binghamton, international education and advocacy chair, and now as a chapter advisor and alumni giving coordinator. The experience has greatly shaped her worldview and interests. Prior to graduate school, she spent two fantastic years in the itinerant Education Fellowship at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. She is a from the Bay State, and loves travelling, the Red Sox, and raspberry brie challah. ​​
Amanda’s Reflection:
I love colors. I believe in the power of a slick of red lipstick or a crisp white shirt.  I think that painting a door can welcome in a new adventure.  
You could imagine my excitement driving the Bulgarian countryside with it’s yellow flowers, and snow-capped mountains glistening white. It was such an honor to attend Gesher, an international gathering of young people from the Balkan area of Eastern Europe — this year in Bansko, Bulgaria.
Everything and everyone at Gesher was so colorful.  The assignments for rooms, our name tags, everything. Tons of beautiful art and people to be seen. It reminded me of the energy of Challah for Hunger leadership summits, specifically seeing chapter merchandise reflecting each’s school colors. I am grateful to Challah for Hunger for the incredible opportunity and know that this experience will impact my Jewish world view and commitment to social justice.


Thanks to alumna Kate Belza and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation for providing this opportunity!

Rise with Challah for Hunger

Rise with Challah for Hunger