American Gap Year Students Clean Up Akko Following Unrest

Akko, Israel, June 7, 2021 — As Akko’s residents begin to recover from the recent conflict that damaged their ancient city, students from Frontier Israel, Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) gap semester program for recent American high school graduates, are helping to clean up the city’s streets.


Akko sustained heavy damage from rocket fire and rioters, with many local businesses burned or destroyed by looters – including JNF-USA’s tourist information center. Frontier Israel students are helping out Akko’s businesses by cleaning and sorting through the destruction. In one instance, some students were cleaning out what had been the storage area of a spice shop, and the oil stored there had caught fired and burned all of the spices and broke all of the glass. While the work was physically challenging, the students found their efforts to be incredibly rewarding.


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Micayla Roth, a Connecticut native currently attending University of Chicago, said: "Volunteering in Akko has really allowed me to interact with community members and find strength in coming together and rebuilding after a difficult time."


New York native and Dartmouth College student Maxim Freedland said: "Volunteering in Akko has given me the chance to help out somebody else, who otherwise would not have gotten help, and to really make a difference in somebody else's life."


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Created by JNF-USA’s Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE-JNF) for freshmen and sophomores currently enrolled in U.S. academic institutions, Frontier Israel provides a real life, modern day pioneering experience for either a full gap year or a semester. The program combines volunteer work in the Negev, Galilee, and Center regions with experiential learning opportunities that use the land of Israel as a breathing classroom. Volunteer opportunities include farming, building and developing accessible hiking paths, working with refugees, and more. Educational opportunities include learning retreats to enable students to explore Israel in greater depth through hiking, educational trips, and guest lectures.


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JNF-USA Director of High School Engagement Marni Heller said: “Frontier Israel students understand the power of serving the communities where they are needed the most. Aiding in Akko’s recovery has been a moving experience for all the students, and their support has been greatly appreciated by the Akko community.”


Head of Frontier Israel Lisa Biton said: “Frontier Israel participants were honored to be a part of the clean-up process in Akko.  When we saw the destruction, we knew that the only response was to be a part of the rebuilding process and to continue the work the JNF-USA has been doing there.”


Click here for more information about Frontier Israel.



Media Contact:

Joseph Krebs

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About Jewish National Fund-USA

JNF-USA is the leading philanthropic organization for Israel that supports critical environmental and nation building activities in Israel’s north and south. Through its One Billion Dollar Roadmap for the Next Decade, JNF-USA is developing new communities in the Galilee and Negev, connecting the next generation to Israel, and creating infrastructure and programs that support ecology, individuals with special needs, and heritage site preservation.