JEWISH TEENS EXPLORE ISRAEL THROUGH SERVICE LEARNING PROJECTS
First of its Kind Program Created Since Marriage of Jewish National Fund and Alexander Muss High School in Israel
New York, NY: August 2, 2017Four years after tying the knot, Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF) and Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI-JNF) have given birth to their first child, “Roots Israel,” a service learning adventure in Israel for young people.
Crafted in response to the growing communal needs for Jewish teen engagement, Israel advocacy and community service, on this journey, teens learn how the history of the land and its people served as a catalyst for Israel becoming a global leader in innovative environmental approaches, and how these approaches are rooted in the mission and values of Judaism.
“Many high schools have community service requirements that must be fulfilled prior to graduation, and service-learning vacations are a big trend in the U.S. right now for the teen community. While these kinds of experiences are offered all over the world, Roots Israel has found the Jewish students who are looking for something similar,” explains Yishai Goldflam, JNF’s Executive Director of Israel Advocacy and Education.
Based on an expansion of JNF’s successful Alternative Spring Break and Volunteer Vacation models, participants plant trees, spend time on farms, work with disabled soldiers and young people in the Negev creating entrepreneurial opportunities, and help Ethiopian families growing crops in the Negev capital of
Roots Israel is a recipient of support from the New York Teen Initiative, an incubator whose goal is to increase the number of teens participating in immersive and inspiring Jewish summer experiences, by meeting the unique needs of today’s teens. The New York Teen Initiative is jointly funded by the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jim Joseph Foundation. The Jewish Education Project serves as
“The New York Teen Initiative is really about trying to address one of the biggest challenges in Jewish life: the kind of disappearance of Jewish teens after bar/bat mitzvah, but also the fact that there are a great many Jewish teens who have never been engaged in the first place,” said Robert Sherman, CEO of The Jewish Education Project. “We’ve set out to find people and programs who want to experiment and design a whole new way, from business to theatre to sports to social action to speak to kids where they are,” he added.
Through the exploration of Jewish values in these tangible contexts, students are transformed into
The program, which just concluded its first session, brought 32 high school students, aged 15-17, on an inspirational journey to Israel where they earned 40 community service hours, made new friends and did their part to help repair the world. Lasting just over three weeks, the tour combined environmental, agricultural and social sustainability learning, with hands-on projects that expose teens to issues that are driving global change today.
The goal is that upon their return home, these Jewish teens will be so profoundly inspired, and having obtained a comprehensive understanding of the issues, that they will be encouraged to facilitate improvements in their respective communities. Students will also be invited to continue participating in the JNF Israel Continuum, which may include attending an academic session at AMHSI-JNF, attending the High School and/or College Summits at JNF’s National Conference, becoming a JNF Campus Fellow, participating in an Alternative Break trip, becoming a member of the JNFuture young adults affinity group, and beyond.
Since 1972 Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI-JNF) has provided a unique study abroad program for high school students where the land of Israel becomes a living classroom. All AMHSI sessions include our Israel Studies curriculum of 4,000 years of Jewish and Israeli history. Students from North America and around the world come together on our campus in Hod
If members of the media would like to interview students from the program, please contact Shana Sisk at 212.879.9305 ext.224 or at [email protected].