The Jerusalem Post

Meet the Gen Z creators - changing the conversation around Israel

 OPENING EVENT of CreatorLab program at Tel Aviv’s Beit Zionay America (photo credit: MARK NOMDAR)
OPENING EVENT of CreatorLab program at Tel Aviv’s Beit Zionay America
(photo credit: MARK NOMDAR)

Learn more about the 'CreatorLab program' which runs in collaboration between the US-based nonprofit TalkIsrael Foundation and the Israeli organization Israel-Is.

When Olaopa Olabayo, a university student from Laos, Nigeria, received a scholarship to study marine geology at the University of Haifa, he could not imagine that the experience would have such a deep influence on him.

“Israel is often perceived by most Nigerians and Africans as a pilgrimage destination,” he said. “When I was offered the opportunity to study here, I anticipated living in a biblical setting. However, my time in Israel has revealed an incredibly diverse and captivating place that goes beyond these notions.”

CONTENT SEMINAR in Tel Aviv (Credit: Talk Israel)
CONTENT SEMINAR in Tel Aviv (Credit: Talk Israel)

Fascinated with Israel’s multifaceted reality, Olabayo started to share glimpses of what he was exposed to on social media. Soon, he learned about the CreatorLab, a program run in collaboration between the US-based nonprofit TalkIsrael Foundation and the Israeli organization Israel-Is, aimed at empowering English-speaking content creators living in the Jewish state to share their experiences and stories with the world.

“This program is like a Christmas present containing everything I’ve ever wanted at just the right time,” Olabayo said. “It has become a platform for my learning and personal growth. As a digital marketer, I was unaware of the extent of social media and content creation that I now have the chance to explore. This program feels like a blessing.


“As an international participant, I value the opportunity to learn more about the country, its people, and the essence of Israel,” he added. “It’s akin to having a dedicated tour guide for four months.”

FOOD TOUR in the Jaffa flea market (Credit: Omri Abuhatzera)
FOOD TOUR in the Jaffa flea market (Credit: Omri Abuhatzera)

According to Elena Yacov, executive director of the TalkIsrael Foundation, the mission of TalkIsrael is to create a more positive and constructive dialogue about Israel among American teens, using the power of social media.

“We understand that the teens of today are using social media for all types of content, including news consumption, and they’re going to be the leaders of the United States of tomorrow,” said Yacov. “It is important for us to reach out to them with relevant Israel-related content that will spark their curiosity about the country. Our approach to content is innovative since rather than emphasizing Israel as a historical landmark, a business center, or a travel destination, our creators introduce the audience to Israel’s diverse people and their authentic stories and experiences.”

ZOOMING IN: Camera workshop. (Credit: Talk Israel)
ZOOMING IN: Camera workshop. (Credit: Talk Israel)

According to a survey commissioned by TalkIsrael that involved some 500 teens and young adults aged 16-24, some 60% of the respondents had not heard anything about Israel in the previous 12 months, and 74% described their opinion of the country as “neutral” (while an additional 10% said it was positive, and another 16% negative).

In addition, over 50% of the respondents said they would be happy to see more content about Israel on social media, and 59% stated that they would be interested in seeing more videos showing what teenagers’ daily life in the Jewish state looks like.


“The survey has validated our model, showing that there’s interest in content about Israel coming from young, inspiring creators,” said Yacov. 

Olabayo is part of the group of 30 creators based in Israel, between ages 18 and 23, who are currently attending the CreatorLab program.

“Gen Z is our future,” said Navah Edelstein, Israel-Is’s VP of strategic partnerships and growth. “They are the ones that we want to be able to reach, and we believe that the best way to do it is by creating people-to-people connections on social media through creating content that is relevant to the audience.”

Edelstein noted that Israel-Is was established in 2017 with a focus on young Israelis planning to travel abroad for their post-army trip.

“We wanted to give them tools to speak about Israel and their personal stories during those trips,” she explained.

“The coronavirus pandemic triggered a shift in our organization. While we still do a lot of public diplomacy, we also understand that social media are a crucial platform to make a difference in having true Israeli voices heard.”

The CreatorLab runs for five months, with weekly online sessions and several in-person gatherings on a variety of topics, ranging from editing on TikTok to how to speak about Israel during a security crisis.

“We also connect our participants with well-established influencers, who become their mentors,” said Adi Wengrovski, the program’s director.

Fernanda Siufi, a 24-year-old who recently moved to Israel from Brazil, is another member of the 2023 cohort.

“This program provided me with the essential support I require to confidently share my journey as someone who is both Jewish and now Israeli on various online platforms, overcoming my previous fears of exposing too much about myself,” she said.

“I’ve always had this crazy passion for traveling – I’ve hit up more than 50 countries! So, giving out travel tips and advice has always flowed naturally for me,” she explained. “But when I moved from Brazil to Israel two years ago, I surprisingly realized that my followers were blown away by the Israel I was showing them. This realization sparked a creative concept within me; to make ‘not-so-cliche’ videos showing the diversity of sites Israel has.”

The scope of the CreatorLab goes well beyond what is taught during formal sessions. As highlighted by its coordinator Eden Gorgi, the participants really come together as a community.

“The participants create content together, offer support and suggestions to their fellow creators, and share each other’s posts,” she said. “It is very special to see how much they help each other.”

The program does not only offer training on technical aspects of content creation and social media. It also aims at teaching its participants about their North American peers, including sessions on topics such as American identity politics.

“Another key aspect of the CreatorLab is that we focus on a target audience and how to reach it best,” Edelstein said.

Yacov also emphasized the importance of reaching out to American teens.

“Unfortunately, the US-Israel alliance is weakening in recent years,” she said. “If we don’t do something now to reach the younger generations of Americans and really educate them about Israel in the way they are willing to be educated, we might lose this critical alliance.”

TalkIsrael runs several programs to fulfill its missions, all aimed at supporting young creators in changing the conversation around Israel on social media.

“I love CreatorLab because it is empowering us content creators to share our authentic selves on social media,” said Samantha Levy, another participant. “This provides space for us to share with the world what Israeli life looks like behind the scenes, thereby reframing how people perceive Israel altogether.

“In a world where Israel is discerned as a desert country, filled with camels, third-world lifestyles, and conflict, as well as rockets raining from the sky, content creators provide an alternative perspective to what Israel can look like on any average day,” she noted.

Levy said that in her content, she focuses on Jewish values and practices, highlighting “day-to-day life in Israel as a Torah observant Jew and activist.”

“I explain to my audience why Israel is such a significant place to the Jewish people,” she added. “In a nutshell, I share the diversity of Judaism and our indigenuity.”

Among the participants, there are those who are especially interested in sports, music and performing arts, history, food, and more. Teaching the participants how to build their specific niche on social media is one of the goals of the program.

“The CreatorLab represents an amazing opportunity to do the thing that I love the most – creating content,” said Eden Ruderman, one of the current participants who is especially active on YouTube.

“The program has strengthened my identity as a Jewish Israeli content creator and has made me understand that I can represent my country through my content.”

For more information about the CreatorLab program, please contact:

This article was written in cooperation with TalkIsrael and Israel-Is.