At the invitation of Dina Rabhan, Fair Lawn native and president of JerusalemU, who currently resides in Hashmonaim with her husband and seven daughters, we attended one of the local preview screenings of JerusalemU’s latest film, “When the Smoke Clears: A Story of Brotherhood, Resilience and Hope.” The film, to be released in early spring, portrays three wounded Israeli soldiers as they discover their renewed purpose and healing by giving to others. This film will join other feature-length JerusalemU films that have engaged over two million people in 28 countries.

The film was produced by Rabbi Raphael Shore, founder and CEO of JerusalemU. Shore, a native of Canada who studied film at the University of Toronto, produced the critically acclaimed PBS film “Inside Israel: How a Small Nation Makes a Difference,” the 2010 documentary “Crossing the Line: The Intifada Comes to Campus,” and the highly impactful “Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Home Front.” This new film was directed by Shore’s wife, Rebecca Shore, a talented documentary filmmaker. The Shores have children who have served in the IDF as well as a daughter currently serving.

“When the Smoke Clears” focuses on three wounded soldiers, Gili, Elad and Ofer, two of whom suffered brain-damaging injuries, and all of whose physical injuries have been exacerbated by their PTSD. Each one expresses his inability to resume life as it was before his injuries, as all are constantly re-living the scenes of the battles in which they lost fellow soldiers and dear friends. Gili, married with a child, is eventually able to re-harness his leadership skills by becoming a leader in an organization founded by Rabbi Chaim Levine called “Brothers for Life.” Ofer eventually resumes his career in music composition and performance, and Elad returns to the university to resume his studies in mathematics. It is only through their initial visit to the “Brothers of Life” headquarters in Seattle and follow-up sessions at the branch in Israel that the three men begin to regain their lives despite being forever haunted by their past.

JerusalemU is headquartered in Jerusalem with offices in New York and Philadelphia. Founded in 2009, JerusalemU’s mission is to strengthen the emotional and intellectual connection of young Jews to Judaism and Israel. In pursuing this mission, JerusalemU forges new approaches to Jewish and Israel education through the creative use of film and technology, all distributed via the internet, social media, television, grassroots campaigns and partnerships with mainstream pro-Israel and Jewish organizations. Since its founding, JerusalemU has partnered with approximately 750 organizations, schools, camps and campus groups including Jewish Federation chapters, Jewish Community Relations Councils, Jewish National Fund and Hillel chapters on campuses throughout the U.S.

JerusalemU has produced five film mini-series through its interactive education program. The series explores Israel’s history, geography, sociology and politics, offers insights into psychology in Jewish thought and explores cinema through the Jewish lens, among other topics. These mini-films can be utilized in classrooms universally.

Through its CORE18 Leaders Lab, JerusalemU offers a Jewish leadership development program, which is a full-scholarship, 15-month program, co-chaired by Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Harvard Professor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, and award-winning actress Mayim Bialik. CORE18 offers emerging young leaders from the U.S. and Israel access to business and entrepreneurial training, leadership development, mentoring and Jewish literacy. Faculty for the program include Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein and Vice President of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Malcolm Hoenlein, as well as other prominent Jewish leaders.

For further information about the opportunities for strengthening the ties of young Jews to Judaism and Israel, visit www.JerusalemU.org, contact Dina Rabhan, president, at drabhan@JerusalemU.org, or contact Rabbi Raphael Shore at RShore@JerusalemU.org.