Teens experience Israel through unique programs

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Ta’am Yisrael participants in Jerusalem. (Photo by Abbe Vallen)

Four JUF programs provide unique opportunities for teens to experience Israel and explore their Jewish identity alongside their peers: Write On for Israel, Diller Teen Fellows, Beber Camp, and Ta'am Yisrael.

Write On for Israel

Write On for Israel (WOFI) is a competitive and prestigious two-year fellowship for high school juniors and seniors. Sponsored by JUF's Israel Education Center, WOFI trains Jewish teenagers to become knowledgeable, articulate, and passionate advocates for Israel through mentorships and seminars. 

During the summer between their junior and senior year, WOFI fellows travel to Israel for two weeks. The trip is an important part of the fellowship because it builds on the learning and growth fellows experience throughout the fellowship in Chicago, according to Carl Schrag, WOFI's program director.

"After delving into multiple perspectives on Israel's history and current realities, fellows travel to Israel to meet with a wide range of people who live those realities on a daily basis:  thought leaders, decision makers, Jewish and Arab peers, and others," Schrag said. "Upon their return from Israel, fellows are challenged to use the stories they've gathered to help shape Israel conversations among their peers as high school seniors and beyond."

To learn more, visit juf.org/writeon

Diller Teen Fellows

Diller Teen Fellows is a fellowship experience for 10th and 11th grade students who seek to develop leadership skills, explore their Jewish identities, build lifelong friendships, and create amazing memories. A highlight of the fellowship is the three-week summer trip to Israel.

Chicago's cohort participates in the Diller Teen Fellows Global Congress and an international Shabbaton alongside 600 other fellows from North America, South America, Australia, South Africa, and Europe. In addition, teens travel to JUF's Partnership Together region, explore Jewish diversity, and visit various cities and regions in Israel. Through the trip, fellows develop a global network of peers, explore Jewish peoplehood, and participate in hands-on leadership development.

To learn more, email Sam Rodin, Chicago's Diller Teen Fellows program director, at SamRodin@juf.org .

Beber Camp

Beber Camp, a Jewish overnight camp in Mukwonago, Wisc., offers rising 11th graders in its Pioneer Program the option to participate in a second session educational trip to Poland and Israel designed to strengthen participants' Jewish identities, their connections to the Land of Israel, and sense of belonging within a community of Jewish leaders. The trip begins in Poland, continues in Israel, and culminates back at camp, allowing participants to fully engage in and process their experiences before returning to camp where they'll generalize and apply what they have learned.

"By participating in community service programs that serve vulnerable populations, by learning from speakers with political and religious viewpoints that differ from their own, and by having new cultural and spiritual experiences, our campers stretch themselves into new territory and truly come home transformed," said Abby Mintz, Beber Camp's assistant director of camper and staff life.

To learn more, visit bebercamp.org

Ta'am Yisrael

Ta'am Yisrael: A Taste of Israel is a weeklong trip sponsored by the Community Foundation for Jewish Education (CFJE). Open to Chicagoland eighth-graders, participants engage in a variety of activities ranging from visiting the Western Wall to spending a day with peers from Kiryat Gat in JUF's Partnership Together region. 

Participants also spend a day partaking in an activity of their choice. Options include sports, fine arts, culinary arts, science and technology, history and politics, and nature and the environment. 

"Participants develop a personal relationship with Israel, which matures and develops as they move to high school, college, and beyond," said Richard Moline, CFJE's director of Israel education. "They are exposed to the complexities of Israeli life, the juxtaposition of our ancient heritage and modern technology, develop long-term friendships with a diverse group of peers from Chicago and Israel, as they strengthen their own Jewish connections and commitments."

Applications for the 2019 trip will open June 4. To learn more, visit taamyisrael.org

To learn more about teen trips to Israel, visit juf.org/israel_experience .




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