American Teen Volunteers Change Lives in Israel


NEW YORK, April 10, 2024 — For most people, an ongoing war is a reason to stay away. Yet, for 20 American teens, they realized that they had to stand up and make a difference for the land and people of Israel. The students traveled 6,000 miles to Israel to participate in Jewish National Fund-USA’s Teen Volunteer Mission, where they trekked across the country to make a tangible difference in the lives of Israelis affected by the October 7 terrorist attacks.


Whether making care packages for Israeli soldiers or visiting children at rehabilitation facilities, the high school students brought relief and joy to a country in desperate need of both. One highlight was a visit to an Israeli farm, where the students got their hands dirty planting and harvesting crops, something of extreme importance given the country’s labor shortage.


American students in Israel's Negev on their volunteer mission

American students in Israel's Negev on their volunteer mission


“While in America, I knew I wanted to do something hands-on to support Israel,” said Spencer, a Jewish student from Detroit. “Once I arrived in Israel on this mission, I knew I was part of something special. We not only had a positive impact on the people there, but the mission had a profound impact on me.”


In addition to supporting Israel, the mission also served as an educational experience, providing participants with a firsthand view of the realities Israel faces every day.


Each stop in Israel’s south showed how close Israel’s adversaries were to its borders, while a visit to Hostage Square in Tel Aviv served as a stark reminder of the families that still haven’t been made whole. And yet, despite the tragedy, the students’ main impression was to be in awe of the resilience and unity of everyday Israelis, who have banded together like never before.


Teen volunteers prepare food for Israelis affected by the war

Teen volunteers prepare food for Israelis affected by the war


“One of the most impactful things that we noticed on this trip was the sense of togetherness and strength of the people,” said Micah and Shir, who attend Solomon Shechter Academy on Long Island. “Everywhere we walked, there were stickers, signs, and posters supporting Israel. We saw signs next to ice cream shops and on the side of the highway, simply there to remind people that we will prevail and win, just as we have in the past. Our people are so strong, and the signs are visible reminders of that.”


During the trip, the students also volunteered with organizations that provide food, clothing, and emergency relief to tens of thousands of Israeli children and their families each year. They also visited Kibbutz Re’im, the site of the October 7 Massacre at the Nova Music Festival, where the students mourned the over 400 innocent lives lost at the hands of Hamas.


Between traveling through and working in the land of Israel, students spent nights at Alexander Muss High School in Israel (Muss), Jewish National Fund-USA’s college prep, study abroad in Israel experience. For the many mission participants who spent part of the Fall 2023 semester at Muss before the war cut it short, the overnights were a homecoming.


For those Muss alumni, the mission was not the first time they had explored Israel. Muss’ experiential Israel studies program uses the land of Israel as a living and breathing classroom, and participants routinely visit the historical and modern sites they learn about in class. However, being an active participant in improving the land of Israel, as opposed to merely learning about it, was a completely different form of inspiration.


Students picking strawberries on an Israeli farm

Students picking strawberries on an Israeli farm


“I've been lucky enough to go to lots of places and to see lots of different sites,” added Bidner. “Yet this trip, truly, was a life-changing experience. It changed my perspective. It taught me so much about the world and about Judaism, and I implore everyone who's considering volunteering to just go and experience it.”


Jewish National Fund-USA is offering additional teen Volunteer Missions this summer. To register, visit




Media Contact:

Stefan Oberman

212.879.9305 x222


About Jewish National Fund-USA

Jewish National Fund-USA builds a strong, vibrant future for the land and people of Israel through bold initiatives and Zionist education. As a leading philanthropic movement, the organization supports critical environmental and nation-building activities in Israel’s north and south as it develops new communities in the Negev and Galilee, connects the next generation to Israel, and creates infrastructure and programs that support ecology, people with disabilities, and heritage site preservation, all while running a fully accredited study abroad experience through its Alexander Muss High School in Israel. Learn more at