Meet the YLC: Jake Toll

Meet the YLC: Jake Toll

The Young Leadership Committee is made up of incredibly dedicated, talented, and interesting young professionals. You can read about their interests and involvement here.

Jake Toll, Vice Chairman of the YLC
YLC member since 2007

How and why did you get involved with Seeds of Peace?

My connection to Seeds is home grown, but it coincidentally vibes with my core tenant. That is to say “it’s a wise man who knows what he doesn’t know”.  It’s a cliche but ignorance really does breed fear and then hate. Our mission can’t really be debated at its core which is that we turn dark to light.  Whether the effect is positive or negative, at least its has an actual base of reference. Isn’t it annoying when people say they don’t like a certain type of food and they’ve never tried it? It’s plain as day to me when people make those sweeping statements about a group of people or a situation and I feel like saying, “how much do you really know about this?”  How can you be such an expert when you’ve never even spoken to an Israeli/Palestinian/Pakistani or whatever. Most people only “know” what they hear instead of what they’ve actually come to understand from experiences.

What do you do for work?

Currently I’m working on two development projects in Bushwick and Williamsburg. Rental apartments with great retail on the ground floors.

How has being a part of the YLC helped you in your profession?

I have grown a lot through being a part of the Young Leadership Committee. This will be my 6th year making sure the Peace Market happens as well as our other great events like Stand Up for Peace. Whether chairing an event or putting together something for the organization, I’ve learned so much about working with people, utilizing resources that aren’t always apparent that they exist, and getting it done. Also especially now, if I don’t like the questions a broker is asking me, I can always change the topic to Seeds of Peace!

What is your favorite part of working with the YLC?

My favorite part is seeing our efforts translate into smiling campers during the summer. I’m lucky enough to work at the camp as well. That and also seeing people at home light up when I explain to them the simple beauty that is our facilitation program.

Describe a story that has inspired you.

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of heart-wrenching stories and been with a lot of our shining stars. I’ll tell you my most recent favorite one. Leslie, our fearless leader, was in the region for a alumni meet-up in Israel. An older Seed said to her “Leslie I haven’t been involved for a long time, haven’t been doing much with SOP but I wanted to come visit and see what I could do.” She asked what he was doing now and he went on to describe how he (a Palestinian) was working with another Seeds alum (an Israeli) on starting a business. Can you believe it? How many Palestinians and Israelis are starting businesses together? Without even knowing it he was fulfilling SOP’s mission to a tee. It’s not about staying in touch with us geezers at the office. It’s about using your experiences out in the world.

What recommendations do you have for people who want to support the YLC?

If you really want to be effective, stick with it. We have a large reach but we’re still mom and pop. If you have a good idea you have to see it through, it won’t just happen by itself because its a good idea. You have to bring it to the group or the office in a way where it can be executed. Use your resources, and then put it in motion yourself.


Vote for Leslie Lewin as the Young Nonprofit Leader of the Year!

Leslie Lewin, the Executive Director of Seeds of Peace, has been selected as one of the top 25 Young Nonprofit Leaders of the Year! If Leslie wins she’ll go to the largest philanthropic awards ceremony hosted by StayClassy and receive a $10,000 prize for Seeds of Peace.

We cannot think of a better candidate to win this award. Leslie is a powerful force in the peacemaking world. She is a beloved leader to her staff and to the young leaders she has inspired.

She has an amazing way of energizing as well as nurturing the growing Seeds of Peace family of 4,500 Seeds, while sharing so much of herself with the organization and the world.

So please join us now; VOTE LESLIE as the 2011 Young Nonprofit Leader of the Year.

To make sure your vote is submitted:

1) Scroll down to her “Young Nonprofit Leader of the Year” category.
2) Click “vote” next to Leslie’s name.
3) Click the “Submit my Ballot” button on the top right corner of the page to lock in your vote.

Voting ends August 26, and we are up against stiff competition. Please encourage your friends and family to add their votes today by joining our Facebook Event.

Thank you for voting, and for your continued support!

YLC Camp Weekend was a huge success!

Overall, this year was a really a turning point for the YLC Camp weekend.  It was as much about meeting Seeds and connecting with the organization as it was a professional retreat for the YLC as leaders in this organization.  I think we all learned more about each other and about ourselves in the process and will be a stronger and more committed team for it.  This year and years past will serve as building blocks to make the coming years of Camp visits even more powerful and meaningful to YLC and Board members.

On Saturday (7/9):

We met with Daniel, the Delegation Leader Facilitator and head of the Adult Educator Program.  Daniel works for Seeds of Peace in the Jerusalem office and focuses his time on building programs  in the Middle East for all the Delegation Leaders (adults that bring the kids to camp) that for the most part are professional educators in their home countries.  He develops relationships with them and empowers them to be ambassadors for SoP in their communities.  He likened them to poles of a tent.  Without them there would be no safe place for the kids to even consider coming to camp.  He shared with us some stories of major challenges with these adult educators through their own dialogues sessions in particular telling us about some incredible changes of heart by some of the delegation leaders that were able to overcome their own biases and prejudices to develop lasting friendships and a firm belief in the SoP mission.

We also met with two counselors that run the South Asia dialogue sessions for campers.   These are graduate students that are focusing their studies on South Asia and conflict resolution and have taken the summer to carry the Seeds through the long arduous road introspection and reinvention.  They shared with us the powerful strategies they use to advance the conversation beyond the superficial political expose to a deep and emotional conversation that shatters the bias and prejudice the kids come to camp with.

We then had the opportunity to join in on a Hindu service that was organized by campers to show the others what this service looked and felt like.  This was complete with chants, incense, and a beautiful description of the meanings of the service by the India Seeds themselves.  Throughout camp, the Seeds have opportunities to lead the community in their own religious services in order to expand religious understanding. The Seeds then offered to bless the guests by applying a bindi (the red dot) to our foreheads which we were told is meant to ward off  demons and bad luck as well as to retain energy which is said to exit the body at the point between the eyebrows.  It was beautiful to see Seeds from around the world representing so many religions quietly observing and listening as their curiosity about each other was satisfied.

We also had the opportunity to meet Glenn Cummings, former Assistant Secretary of Education.  He spoke to us about his career as a Speaker of the House in Maine, about his leadership in introducing Obama to Maine, his experience as an educator, a social entrepreneur building a magnet school in Maine focusing on environment and sustainability, and also about being a community leader.  He inspired us to do more and commended the YLC on its amazing efforts and passion for SoP.

We then joined the Seeds in sports.  Some played “steal the bacon,” basketball, soccer, and tennis.  The games were intense and fun spirited!  Then came time for lineup.  Wil Smith introduced us each to the campers with a chance to say a brief word about ourselves to the cheers and laughs of the 192 Seeds attending this summer.

At this point, the YLC and Board broke into our own 2 hour planning and leadership session.  We began with an Acumen Fund exercise on values.  Each of us had to force rank our values in order of importance from 1-20 from a pre-established list that was distributed.  We then called out different values/principles and each person had to stand around the room close to numbers posted on the wall 1-20.  This shows us the wide distribution of priorities in our lives and gave us a chance to reflect on the relative importance of values.  Some shared priorities, others had vastly opposing priorities.  The point of this exercise was to realize that even in a group as close as the YLC, we don’t place the same importance on principles that are guiding our lives.  The empathy required to understand that we don’t place the same value on happiness, or social justice, or close family allowed us to see that despite disparate priorities we are all on the same page and more unites us than divides us.  The ability to empathize with others is core to leadership and is an essential part of the SoP lesson.

We then had a very productive 1hr 30min meeting discussing strategy and plans for 2011-2012.  Most notably we discussed integration of YLC Chapters and team fundraising programs.

We then broke for the evening and went to have dinner in Naples, about 20 minutes from camp.  We enjoyed some drinks, good laughs and lots of lobster rolls and fried pickles which are oddly amazing.

On Sunday (7/10):

We woke up bright and early to attend Group Challenge on the low ropes course at camp.  Led by 2 of the Group Challenge counselors, we were split into 2 teams.  Each team started from a different end of the ropes course.  One member of each team was blind-folded and as teams we had to get from one end to the other of the 50 yard course.  It took us 1h30 minutes and we had to learn to work together as a team and then to work as a group of 2 teams to get past each other as we made our way to the opposing side.  It was amazing to see different team members assume different roles in what ended up being very physically challenging.  Some were anchors, some were strategists, some were quick and nimble, and some had no balance.  We managed to get the blindfolded (and balanced-challenged) people across the ropes but not without incredible difficulty.  This was capped by a discussion after the course was finished where we discussed our impressions of the exercise and the feeling of taking on those different roles and working as a team.  This is only one of the many Group Challenges that the Seeds go through on a daily basis.

Next we went for a nice swim in the lake and laid out in the sun for about an hour before lunch.  The lake is fed by the same spring as Poland Springs.  The water was so clear and sweet.

Next we had a chance to join the Seeds for lunch.  We talked about being homesick, about the difficulty of breaking these barriers, of how much fun camp is.  Two campers shared that they never wanted to go home.  That as much as every minute of their day at camp is planned for them, this is the most free they have ever been.  One of the Seeds asked about YLC and whether we all understand the details of the conflict and the historical facts that led to it.  We responded that while many of the YLC do understand, that is not our purpose of focus.  We at the YLC are not trying to solve the problem.  We hope to raise money and awareness for SOP so that more Seeds can attend camp each year, to train the next generation of leaders.  We are here to support them, to help guide them when we can in their professions and education as needed, and to show them that there is a community out there that believes in them and in their ability to move the world forward into a peaceful direction.

Click here for a slideshow of the weekend.



New VIP Gift Bag Item from Pearl Naidoo!

Up and coming jewelry designer Perline Naidoo is already making waves with her first collection under the Pearl Naidoo Jewelry label. Inspired by her Indian roots and her upbringing in South Africa, the jewelry line is rich in symbolism, bold in style and irresistible to wear.  Each line in the collection is named in honor of her childhood memories and members of her family.  The exotic pieces are eye catching and wallet friendly.  All of her business efforts are paired with a charitable cause, and she has most recently partnered with She’s The Firstand Seeds of Peace, donating a portion of each sale to the organizations as well as raffling off signature pieces with all proceeds going to charity.  Pearl Naidoo Jewelry is donating the Judo Cuff Bracelet, part of the Angel Pearls line, toSeeds of Peace for their Peace Market VIP gift bags, may you be one of the lucky few to receive one!

Great Hummus Recipe | My Social Chef

Read this great article on My Social Chef that mentions the Peace Market’s Hummus Taste Off competition! Excerpt below:

“… Here’s an example: September 13, 1993 — I was 13 at the time, and I stayed up late to watch the premier of Late Night with Conan O’Brien. In his monologue, he joked that someone said to him that “the day you get your own show is the day their will be peace in the Middle East.” I’m in my thirties now; Conan has had two more shows since then and yet the conflict continues (though I’m still not sure why).

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, wondering when the people of that region are going to take a stand. I don’t mean they should to take a stand for who’s right and who’s wrong — they’ve got that covered — but rather a stand for peace.

The Seeds of Peace organization believes in just that. The organization works with all youth in conflict, showing them that peace is possible. …”

I Try | Macy Gray

Seeds of Peace and the Peace Market featured on

Check out this great article focusing on Seeds and their hopes for the future with a special mention of the upcoming Peace Market on April 7th.

Fortune Teller

Fortune TellerWe are so excited to have Rose Moriello as part of this year’s Peace Market! Rose is a tarot card reader and owner of The Holistic Hue. Be sure to find her on April 7th to have your cards read!

Rose Morriello has been reading tarot cards since she can remember.  Coming from a family of tarot readers and numerologists the gift is hereditary. Along with this gift, she was taught it is important to be one with nature, listen to one’s body and follow the earth’s rhythms.  This lead to the creation of The Holistic Hue.  Based on the science of aromatherapy, the Holistic Hue microproduces products blended with essential oils to aid in health, happiness and a stress free life.  It’s all about bringing the client back into natural harmony with themselves and the world around them.

Peace Marketplace

We are trying something new at this year’s Peace Market – we’re including an actual bazaar! Here is some information on some of our favorite vendors and Seeds of Peace supporters – be sure to check them out on April 7th!

Bazaar If you had the slightest sense of humor growing up in an Arab household than you realize the day to day hilarity that flew through the kitchen should be of no coincidence. If you have ever thought to yourself, “Wow, my life could be a sitcom”, you understand exactly where we are coming from. Growing up in an Arab household gives you more than just a sound upbringing; it gives you laughable material and stories that last a lifetime.

One day, while the tea was on the stove and the falafel was frying, myself and my friend, Hanna Simaan, looked at each other and realized that we wanted to connect with all those that understand what it’s like growing up in a household that’s louder than a 747 jet – a household that more people check into than your local Holiday Inn. Trust us, if you have ever had to explain to your parents something that is generally understood by the American public 10 times, we know exactly where you’re coming from.
Here at Habibtees we strive to bring to others the humor that has been a part of our everyday lives since we were old enough to say Mama or Baba. Through our products we hope to make the world a better place, or if not better, a funnier place. Lastly, we want to spread our culture and humor to America so they see a rich and gratifying culture.

Friction Jewelry: Friction Jewelry began in 2007 and is the work of Mike DiCerbo, an Albany area native now jet-setting between New York City, Los Angeles and resort destinations around the world. Our jewelry collections are a combination of the latest fashion trends and classic handmade looks for the simple-chic girl.  Almost everything is made with different chain and metals incorporating both urban and organic influences. Friction is best known for its handmade, True Leaf Collection which is an elegant mix of real, organic leaves dipped in precious metals.  The easiest way to find Friction is online at or at one of our holiday pop-up stores in New York City’s Bryant Park or downtown Philadelphia. xoxo

Kiss My Face: Kiss My Face is continuing its tradition of unconventional social change by partnering with Seeds of Peace on their Peace Soap product line. The natural personal care company’s heritage is based upon creating environmentally sound and natural products at a time when such offerings were considered unappealing and ineffective. “We have worked hard from the beginning to challenge the way people do things to find a healthier, safer, and effective alternative,” says Bob MacLeod, president and cofounder of Kiss My Face. This made for a perfect match with Seeds of Peace, an organization that pioneers programs and ideals dedicated to challenging perceptions widely accepted and taught to children in countries of conflict. Both groups believe that by questioning the established way of thinking and spearheading a new movement, change will come… and a new, better way will become the norm. Kiss My Face supports Seeds of Peace by donating 10% of all profits from Peace Soap to Seeds of Peace. The donation is earmarked for programming and supporting camp efforts.

Demiu is a lifestyle brand devoted to showcasing singular products with a global aesthetic. Each of our wares is carefully constructed by hand and available in limited quantities, or, as one-of-kind statement pieces. From accessories and home goods to gift bags and packaging, everything is exclusively made for you.

As the patron of these products, the character “Demiu” is our arbiter of style. Born out of the ancient Greek concept of demiurge, in which a higher being fashions the material world out of chaos, Demiu brings style consciousness to our lives and encourages us to always give and receive with extra thought and attention to beauty. As a modern icon, her brand embraces the need to sustain artisan craftsmanship and help communities around the world preserve their handicrafts and traditions.

Also, don’t forget to check out the Seeds of Peace store also featured in the marketplace!

Cultural Entertainment

We are so excited about this year’s cultural entertainment! Here is what to expect at the 2011 Peace Market…

Henna Tatto Artist/ Jamaal Henna: Henna is a traditional Indian body art that has been around for ages. It is a form of art traditionally done on the hand, especially for women on their wedding. Our artists have taken professional henna design classes and have also taught henna making for many years in India. We make our own henna paste which is completely natural with no added chemicals and safe to apply on any part of the body. We have been successfully running this business for several years in the U.S. We specialize in the conventional intricate henna designs as well as modern Arabic style designs.

Dhoonya Dance: Dhoonya Dance is home of the best Bollywood talent, teachers and training providing simple, artistic instruction. The Dhoonya Method of Bollywood dance emphasizes strong fundamentals and choreography rooted in traditional, folk  and classical Indian dance. Established in 2005 as the pioneer in Bollywood-inspired modern South Asian dance classes and performances in the DC area, we have taught thousands of adults and children and now have offerings in NYC, DC, VA and MD.  Dhoonya Dance Performance Company has thrilled audiences offering countless high-energy and vibrant performances.
It is our talented team that drives the creative engine of Dhoonya Dance.  We are fueled by passion and positivity and we share our interpretations of Bollywood dance with common goals of fun, fitness and fundamentals.

Soul Dance: Dancing is the soul’s way of expressing its happiness. Moving to various rhythms, we see what a beautiful place the world can be. When you take dancers with roots from India, the Middle East, Europe, Caribbean, South America and more, you are not only bringing the world together, you are fusing it! A true represent of the rich diversity of today’s America. Introducing Dance Soul Company a unique and gifted team of dancers that combine dances of the world creating amazing shows with Belly dance, Bollywood, Salsa, Hip-Hop, Fire Acts, Snake Charmers, Samba, Flamenco, just to name a few– into a new & exciting brand of an avant-garde entertainment. Their style of dance has been captivating audiences from the United Nations to the Apollo Theater, Bollywood Music Awards in Atlantic City CW11 News 07′ & 08′, Times Sq. Art Center, Dulhan Expo’s and more. Your jaws will drop, hips will shake, and feet will move. Let your soul be free and Come Join the Dance Soul Co!