Monthly News from JNF’s Advocacy & Education Department
We’ve had quite a success with our virtual tours of Israel! From a Camp Judaea staff trip, to Congregation Ohev Shalom in Orlando, we’ve seen communities come together and enjoy getting to “tour” JNF projects as well as hidden games of Israel. Thanks to Israeli tour guides and Alexander Muss High School in Israel educators, our virtual tours are continuing throughout the summer. Visit Israel without ever leaving your house! Email [email protected] if you are interested in booking a tour for your school, youth group or synagogue.
Jewish National Fund and The Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education are excited to launch Frontier Israel, a gap semester program in Israel starting this Fall for incoming college freshmen and sophomores, which will include volunteering and learning components. Applications are open now. Contact Marni Heller at [email protected] for more information--spots are filling up fast!
As always, JNF is producing content for Educators, such as AMHSI-JNF’s “Muss on the Move” series, and Israel Education Online classes which are held every Tuesday and Thursday on Zoom. Download or share a video from the series, and join us for intriguing discussion and inspiration for your Fall lesson plans.
The Israel Advocacy & Education Team
By Jacob Leibowitz, Alexander Muss High School in Israel Educator
This upcoming Shabbat we will combine and read two Torah portions during services: the portions of "Matot" (refers to the tribes of Israel) and "Masei" (refers to the Children of Israel’s journeys in the desert). Most Torah portions are read separately, yet it is quite common to read these portions together.
Of the many themes that arise throughout these portions, one appears to be extremely significant, and will reappear in future books: the theme of unity amongst the tribes of Israel.
As Moses is preparing the tribes of Israel for their conquering of the land, he receives a strange request from 2.5 of the tribes. The request, asked by the tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menashe, is if they can settle in the land on the eastern side of the Jordan river.
Moses is very upset by this request because he thinks that they are asking this so they won't have to go through the years of battles the Israelites will face on the western side of the Jordan river. Immediately, the leaders of the 2.5 tribes reassure Moses that they plan on fighting with their brothers and sisters and will even volunteer to be on the front lines. However. after the land is conquered, they would like to return to the hills of Jordan and settle there.
Much later, after the conquering of the land of Israel, the leaders of the 2.5 tribes will remind Joshua, the current leader, that they were promised they could settle on the eastern side of the river. They are given permission and build homes there. During this time, the majority of the Israelites have an altar in the city of Shilo which is where the tabernacle is located. The 2.5 tribes living on the other side of the river build a replica of this altar for themselves. This act is viewed by the majority of the tribes as a display of lack of unity, and they declare a civil war.
However, the 2.5 tribes explain to the rest of the Israelites that the altar they built is not a competition to the main altar, rather a symbol that was meant to remind them, and their descendants, that all 12 tribes are one people with one god. That even though the Jordan river may be a geographical border between the people of Israel, it should never separate the unity of the people of Israel.
I find this message to be a beautiful one, and also a relevant one. Today the Jewish people are not only separated by one small river, but by oceans, continents, and to some degree – politics. However, it is our responsibility to remember that these differences and borders should never affect our unity. We should always remember that while the Jewish world may not be united geographically, we are united by our values and our will to pass those values on to the next generation.
Camp Judaea Goes to Israel on a Virtual Bus
By Marnie Nadolne, Israel Programs Admissions Director
When it became apparent that summer camp wasn’t going to happen, the adult staff of Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, NC, really didn’t know what to do with themselves. “I’ve been working at camp for almost 2 decades. I can’t imagine spending summer any other way,” said Bretta Schachner, who runs the camp Health Care Center. Several of the staff put their heads together and decided that the best way to connect is to travel together – virtually. They decided to book a virtual tour to Israel through the Jewish National Fund.
Jewish National Fund has vast experience running missions to Israel, but with the pandemic, these missions could no longer go on as before. Cue the virtual missions – week-long tours that take participants through history dating back thousands of years, show innovative technological advances in areas such as water desalination and recycling, and visit state-of-the art medical, culinary, and agricultural institutes, all while supporting the debilitated tourism industry in Israel.
The tour took the camp staff from the Kotel to Masada, Sderot to the Galilee, and a side trip to Petra, Jordan at the request of one of the participants. The group bonded as never before, reminiscing about previous trips, learning stories about sites they had never visited, and reconnecting to Israel in a whole different way. With eyes on the gallery of Zoom squares, the participants played off each other’s excitement as they ‘rode’ the cable cars down Masada and checked out the ‘bike rentals’ in the Hula Valley.
Next summer, when hopefully all is back to normal and camp is back in session, the staff members plan to bring their Israel experience to camp with them. They have learned much about Jewish National Fund’s work with disabilities, community building, water innovation, and research and development in Israel. They can’t wait to talk about JNF’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel with their teen campers, and Jewish National Fund’s Frontier Israel gap semester program with their college-aged counselors. Not only did the tour provide a welcome respite from ongoing living-room solitude, it also provided resources for staff to teach their passion for Israel to the next generation.
Introducing: Frontier Israel Gap Semester Program
Jewish National Fund and Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education are excited to launch Frontier Israel – a gap semester program in Israel for incoming freshmen and rising sophomores attending U.S. academic institutions. Frontier Israel will combine volunteer work in various communities in Israel with learning seminars to give participants a real life, modern day pioneering experience.
Frontier Israel will be comprised of two components:
Meaningful volunteer work in three enriching regions of Israel (Negev, Galilee, and Center) with JNF-USA affiliates. Volunteer opportunities include farming, building hiking paths for the disabled, working with refugees, and more.
Educational explorations designed to broaden horizons and build a student’s portfolio of experiences. Seminars will include learning retreats to enable students to explore Israel in greater depth through hiking, educational trips, and guest lectures.
Frontier Israel has an extremely limited number of spots. If you are interested in a unique and life-changing Israel experience that will embody the essence of JNF and AMIIE, apply today.
Dates: September 2 - December 25, 2020
Cost: $15,000 (Masa Grants Available)
Questions? Contact Marni Heller at [email protected] or 212.879.9305 x485.
Sababa Fellowship 2020 Application
Do you know rising high school freshmen and sophomores who are leaders in their Jewish community? Refer them to this leadership development program:
The Sababa Society Fellowship is a merit-based 22-month leadership program that teaches students about philanthropy, teamwork, communication, fundraising, and much more. Also, the students learn about JNF affiliate organizations in Israel and how to incorporate community service into their lives. To close out their almost two-year adventure, the Fellows will travel together to Israel and participate in Roots Summer 2022.
To learn more and to apply, click here. Applications are due July 31.
For more information, contact Marni Heller at [email protected]. or 212.879.9305 x485.
Visit Israel LIVE from Your Living Room
Enjoy a side of Israel you have never seen guided by a licensed Tour Guide.
- JNF's Virtual Tours to Israel are led by licensed tour guides who are currently out of work in Israel.
- Tours done through Zoom in English – Max of 20 zoom tiles per tour.
- A typical tour is five days in length with one-two hours per day of “touring”.
- 100% of the money we charge for the tour goes directly to the tour guide.
- $50 per Zoom tile for adults – no limit to # of adults per zoom tile
- $36 per Zoom tile for students
- $1000 for your school group
- Design a tour for your group with our expert staff – go anywhere, see anything!
- We can provide pre-teen tours, teen tours, young adult, family, adult tours, etc.
- We will gladly work with you to customize your trip and itinerary to your specifications.
Watch this video for a short sample of a few different tours we have done recently.
For more information, contact Daniel Friedman, at [email protected] or 323.964.1400 x956
Alexander Muss High School in Israel
Do you know teens who would love to study in Israel? Applications are still open for our Fall 2020 Sessions! Choose from 16-Week and 8-Week Sessions. Generous financial aid and scholarships available.
Register today for an upcoming virtual information session to learn more about our Israel programs.
One of our very own AMHSI-JNF instructors, Doni Kandel, shared his own perspectives on living in Israel during COVID-19. We are proud that his article was curated by the Times of Israel – read about it here!