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Local teen is first Kansas intern for Stand With Us

As the Stand With Us intern for Kansas, Kayla Goldenberg gives a presentation on anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism on social media and how to identify it to students.

Sometimes an email spam folder can open up a new opportunity. For Kayla Goldenberg, opening her spam folder in March 2017 lead to an exciting opportunity: an internship with Stand With Us (SWU), a national organization whose mission is educating people of all ages about Israel and combating the anti-Semitism and extremism that often distorts the issues (standwithus.com).

“I had no idea the program existed,” Kayla said. “But I saw the email with the information in my spam folder. I looked it up online, it looked fun, so I applied.”  

She did not tell anyone about her application until after she was accepted.

“I realized it was a big deal then,” she said. This year there are 89 high school interns from all across the USA and Canada. Kayla, a senior at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, is the first high school intern from Kansas.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to enhance my education,” she continued. “This is an outside source which provides new information and layers to the information I already had learned at the Academy.”

The high school internships, which began in 2012, are the outgrowth of a need seen by those participating in the Emerson Fellowships, which are the college internships started by SWU in 2007.

“It selects and trains student leaders to educate about Israel and confront anti-Israel rhetoric on their campuses. Stand With Us realized that incoming freshman were not prepared enough for the challenges they would meet as they entered university and determined that education had to begin in high school,” said Tatiana Uklist, who is Goldenberg’s SWU adviser.

Because Kansas has no other interns, Kayla has been working with Uklist, the southern high school liaison, who is based in Texas. Uklist, a senior in college, was an Emerson Fellow before working for SWU.

 “Mentoring the interns is a joint effort between Jesse Stock, Texas associate director, and myself,” Uklist said. “There are many more applicants for the annual High School Internship than available places, so we are in a position to select the most qualified students. We begin with a smart, motivated student who has already demonstrated leadership qualities, such as Kayla. Our role is to provide them the education, tools, resources and the confidence to accomplish whatever task they have planned.”

Intern and adviser speak weekly.

“Tatiana is my mentor and adviser,” Kayla said. “She is so amazing. She helps me in so many ways. She is my biggest cheerleader. She is always there to give me help when I need it or even when I don’t know I need it.”

Uklist has only praise for Kayla’s commitment to the internship program.

“Kayla has grown into a phenomenal leader who is able to take charge, educate even the youngest people and I’ve seen her passion for Israel grow as a result. SWU has a Teen Leadership Council for students not in the Internship, and I’ve seen Kayla take on a leadership role, helping me mentor and guide the next generation of student leaders in the Kansas one and at her school. Kayla has follow-through and conscientiously checks in on her students, making them feel a part of it and reinforcing their commitment. She is a wonderful public speaker, strong and determined in her goals.”

In fact, Kayla helped start the Teen Leadership Council in Kansas. She spoke to students she thought would be interested and encouraged them to apply. Three Academy students were accepted into the program: Sagi Rudnick, Sara Saidel and Gavi Glickman. Usually a new intern is selected from a member of the Teen Leadership Council. (High school sophomores and juniors can apply beginning March 1 at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

The internship program includes attending two national conferences held in Los Angeles, California, where Stand With Us has its national headquarters. The first one taught the basics.

“We learned how it works and tools to use, like ‘Israel 101,’ ” Kayla said. During the four-day event, the interns heard two or three presentations each day. They also learned about sample activities they could do in their communities.

As part of her internship, she had to plan or present four programs in her community. Kayla has already accomplished this goal in her first semester. Not only have these presentations benefitted the community, they have helped her as well.

Kayla admits that before becoming an intern, she was “shy in public speaking” situations.  But being an intern has helped her.

“It gives me the confidence and the power to speak up because I know how to say the right thing,” she said. “I learned exactly how to do it both in person and on social media.”

On Jan. 19, Goldenberg traveled to the Stand With Us International Conference for college interns (Emerson Fellows), high school interns and international participants. This will be her last official program with SWU, although she will continue presenting programs in the Kansas City area and working with the Teen Leadership Council. Her internship ends in May, when a new intern is appointed.

It has been a positive experience for Kayla. Her SWU advisors have only praise for her.

“Kayla is an incredible intern and has done a wonderful job representing Stand With Us in Kansas,” said Stock, who also mentors Goldenberg. “In formulating programming with her, I am continually impressed by her ability to read between the lines, understand nuance and the ‘gray area’ and convey this to her peers, inspire them to learn about Israel and to take action.”  

Kayla, the daughter of Jeff Goldenberg and the late Missy Goldenberg, belongs to Congregation Beth Shalom. She is still considering applying for an Emerson Fellowship. However, she has not yet decided where she is going to college next year, although she already has been accepted to two universities.