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I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a Shana Tova.
The last year has been a trying one for Britain. Our country has been the target of terrorism and our community has been the target of increasing antisemitism and hate crime. We were shocked by the tragedy of Grenfell Tower because of the terrible loss of life but also because it accentuated the growing gaps within our society. But as we gather round our Rosh Hashana dinner table, attend services in synagogue and reflect on the difficulties we have experienced, it is incumbent upon us not to forget the good we have in our lives. Indeed, there is much for which we can be thankful.
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UJIA is the main UK Jewish organisation supporting informal education for our community’s young people and summer is their busiest time. Between 12 June and 26 August, UJIA supported 52 Israel programmes and UK summer camps, involving nearly 3,700 Jewish youth. This includes 27 Israel tours, 10 UJIA Birthright groups and 13 youth movement summer camps.
Whether in Israel or the UK, UJIA is enabling Jewish 8-26 year-olds to come together, not just for an afternoon, but for days and weeks, outside the home, outside the classroom. The value of coming together with their peers in a Jewish context is completely invaluable to building a strong Jewish identity and future communal participation.
The programmes taking place in Israel, which over 1,000 young people are enjoying today, are helping to make our homeland relevant to an age group that will soon be selecting universities or colleges, maybe becoming Jewish leaders where they study, and considering what they want to do in the future. A close relationship with the people of Israel is central to all of this and we are proud to support the 10 youth movements in delivering that powerful educational experience.