• Beyond the Headlines: Connecting Jews on the Ground in Israel

    By Rabbi Rich Kirschen, Director As director of the URJ’s NFTY in Israel initiative and a resident of Jerusalem, I was asked recently to write a blog post about Israel. With that in mind, I am going back to a topic I know well – or at least one I care about deeply: the complicated relationship between […]


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  • There is something remarkable about Hanukkah in Jerusalem

    By Rabbi Rich Kirschen, Director Hanukkah is without a doubt a peculiar Holiday. And not because it commemorates a story about a victory where the few prevailed against the many, and the weak won out against the strong. We are all familiar with the theme, “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat,” a theme that […]


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  • The 8 Miracles of NFTY in Israel

    Hanukkah is here and, in the spirit of the season, we're excited to share eight moments that will make your NFTY in Israel trip this summer as miraculous as that little jar of oil lasting for all eight nights! Of course, like the Hanukkah oil, there is so much more to the miracle of a NFTY in Israel summer than just what is on this list!


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  • Hanukkah and Hinuch (Jewish Education)

    t is winter now in Jerusalem and we are just a few days away from Hanukkah. Hanukkah was born in Jerusalem. It was a victory celebration of a minority people whose culture had been outlawed by the tyranny of the majority. The Hebrew word Hanukkah is connected to the Hebrew word for Hinuch “Education.”


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  • The Ultimate Throwback Thursday (TBT)

    NFTY in Israel has been leading trips to Israel since 1958. With an alumni database of nearly 30,000 teens, we have an extensive collection of photos taken over the last 60 years. For a classic TBT post, here are some favorite photos over the last 10 years.


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  • How to Talk with Teens about Israel: A Framing for Embracing Complexity

    Israel engagement for young people, like every aspect of Jewish engagement, requires each new generation to make it their own. Although we sometimes talk about Israel’s complexity as one of the most difficult educational challenges in Jewish education, it really is part of the same package of big questions our youth are asking about Judaism’s relevance to living in a diverse, pluralistic, and globalized world. While their questions may challenge us, the act of questioning should be seen as a natural part of their development as well as the Jewish people’s self-renewal.


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  • Teaching NFTY in Israel Teens about the real Israel

    It is October in Jerusalem, the weather is beautiful, and we are now completing the itineraries for our fun packed and educationally enriching Israel adventures for NFTY in Israel Summer 2019. The educational aspect of the program is intentionally constructed to reflect the best progressive Jewish values of the Union for Reform Judaism. One of the most significant upgrades is that we are presenting a more nuanced and sophisticated encounter with the complexities and conflicts in Israeli society today.


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  • The Five Ws of Mitzvah Corps Israel

    You! And other cool people! You’ll be traveling with peers from around the country who are as passionate about making a positive change in the world as you are. And to make it even better, at every stop along the way, you’ll meet incredible locals from different cultures, religions, ethnicities, and perspectives, all of whom are creating innovative solutions to challenges in their communities.


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  • The Power of the Sukkah

    This past Sunday marked the last day of Sukkot. There are few holidays in Israel that are as powerful as Sukkot, a holiday that makes you feel as though you are living in the Torah. In Israel, Sukkot is not just a two day festival, but it is a seven day holiday known as “Z’man Simchatenu/A Time of Our Happiness”, a  festival where businesses shut down and everyone in the country takes vacation. You see sukkahs (booths) suddenly appearing all over the country, and not only in people’s homes, but in falafel shops and schwarma stands, too.


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  • Summer 2019 is on the horizon

    With summer officially over as of this past Saturday, we are already thinking about Summer 2019! In just nine short months, our first groups will be departing on flights across the Atlantic to begin their epic journeys into the story of our people. They’ll explore, hike, eat delicious food, meet amazing people, conquer challenges, and much more on their 3, 4 or 5-week adventures through Israel.


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