This article as first published as “Club Z puts some zip into learning about Israel” in JWeekly.
Knowing that Club Z is a group for 12- to 16-year-olds in the Bay Area, you might think that the “Z” stands for “zipline,” “zany” or even “zine.”
Nope. It stands for Zionism.
Club Z is a project of the Rimon Club, a Peninsula-based group founded a few years ago by Minsk native Masha Merkulova to promote pro-Israel education and advocacy locally. Rimon Club also promotes speakers hosted by other local groups.
Her desire was to create a “fast-acting” organization that could respond quickly to a current issue, perhaps by bringing a speaker to the area with only two to three weeks notice. And an unabashedly pro-Israel speaker, at that.
“I feel that a lot of organizations shy away from strong Zionist speakers, or speakers with a polarizing point of view,” Merkulova explained. “There’s too much of a desire to please everybody and not to offend.”
Now, the Rimon Club’s main focus is Club Z, which got off the ground last fall. Merkulova, a labor and delivery nurse, runs the program with help from other parent volunteers.
This year there are 29 registered participants, up eight from last year, and most of them are children of Russian immigrants and attend public schools. The 14- to 16-year-olds meet twice a month and the 12- to 13-year-olds once a month in donated space at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto.
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© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.