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.
Spotlight on Israel Tour
One of the programmes with a long-standing history of delivering that powerful educational experience is Israel Tour. Israel Tour is one of UJIA’s biggest flagship programmes, and has been running for over 30 years. At the end of last month, 1,067 16 year-olds returned home from a month of exploration and education in Israel.
Over seven weeks, 10 youth movements, supported by UJIA Israel Experience, ran 27 tours, which collectively trekked around 25,200km; the equivalent of London to New York four times over!
The action packed Israel Tours gave participants the chance to visit sites of Jewish significance, meet Israelis from all walks of life and learn about the history of Zionism. By collectively contributing a total of 1,800 hours volunteering and engaging in informal education across the country, the cohort of young people was able to really engage with the Israel of today.
Roni Altman, on FZY Tour 5, said, “Connection is something I have learned a lot about on tour. Whereas visiting the Kotel helped reaffirm my own connection, exploring the Baha’i gardens and Druze hospitality helped me better understand other connections to Israel, as well as my own.”
Debra Green, UJIA Israel Experience Head of Israel Programmes, said,
“Israel Tour does happen every year but we mustn’t take it for granted. At a time when young people have a different relationship to Israel than previous generations, we need to make sure we are offering each person the chance to forge a truly personal connection, and the wide array of youth movements make this possible.”
UJIA Israel Experience is organised by the Jewish Agency and supported by UJIA. Tours were run by Bnei Akiva, BBYO, Ezra, FZY, Habonim Dror, JLGB, LJY-Netzer, Noam, RSY-Netzer and Tribe.