Mitzvah Corps Israel
Experience Israel off-the-grid. Engage with refugees from Syria and Sudan. Meet with people of all faiths and ethnic identities. Snorkel in the Red Sea. Feel the spiritual energy of Tzfat. Sleep under the desert stars. Be part of a kibbutz community. Learn and practice Hebrew. Hike in the mountains and float in the Dead Sea. Support integration of Ethiopian immigrants. Find the beauty in Israel's complexities.
2020 Trip Details
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Israel is an incredible place to explore, with a wide variety of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. Whether it is your first time or you've been before, experience these powerful places with a new understanding of the complexities of Israel, through the lens of multiple perspectives and narratives.
Embark on a journey engaging with citizens of Israel whose stories too often go untold, and messages of peace go unheard. Be immersed in various communities, work alongside those with a shared vision of peace and collaboration, and learn from their methodology.
Build a Community
Take an epic journey working alongside various cultural communities in major cities like Tel Aviv and Haifa, in smaller towns like Be'er Sheva, and on kibbutzim. These immersive experiences will allow teens the opportunity to build real connections with their peers in Israel.
Live amongst Israelis throughout our journey, to experience life as Jewish people living in the Jewish State. The chance to eat, work, travel, learn, and socialize with members of the local communities opens the door for meaningful and honest insights into real Israeli culture. Fill your stomachs with fresh hummus, schnitzel, falafel, and shawarma.
Below is an outline of our itinerary. We refine the schedule as we approach each summer to respond to the evolving needs, and take advantage of the most current opportunities, in the local communities. Shabbat will be modified to match the current year's calendar and itinerary; below are examples of the ways in which the group will celebrate.
Day 1 - Departure for Israel The group will gather at a domestic airport for an initial orientation, and fly together to Israel.
Day 2 – Arrival into Israel Upon landing, you will be welcomed by your program staff with a brief snack and refreshments, and then board a bus to make your way north. Once there, you’ll get to know each other and your staff, and build the community that will support you through your journey.
Day 3 – Israeli Land & Borders The group will begin their first full day in Israel by exploring their physical environment, getting to know the land itself as context for upcoming meetings with the various people who inhabit it. They’ll start with the Jilaboon water hike, which ends with a beautiful waterfall and natural pools to swim in. After lunch, they’ll travel to Mount Bental in the Golan Heights, which overlooks Israel’s borders with both Syria and Lebanon. It’s a striking contrast to be in such a peaceful place, yet to visualize just how small the country is, and the real implications that these close borders have had on Israel’s history. From there, they’ll return to a Kibbutz to prepare for their first Shabbat in Israel.
Day 4 – Shabbat on a Kibbutz After a late wake up and breakfast, the group will spend Shabbat in true Israeli kibbutz style, by relaxing at the pool, meeting and engaging with their Israeli peers, and getting a feel for real communal living!
Day 5 – Broadening Coexistence The term “coexistence” in the context of Israel has come to imply peace between cultural groups; this morning, the group will explore how the term also applies to creating inclusive space for all people in the natural environment. They’ll spend time working with LOTEM, an organization that adjusts existing hiking trails to make them accessible to people with various physical impairments, as well as runs programs for at-risk youth, and women and children who have experienced abuse, to use nature as therapy. The group will then enjoy the hospitality of the minority Druze community as they welcome us to a delicious, authentic lunch. We will have a chance to learn about their faith, customs, and space in Israeli society.
Day 6 – Jewish Identity in Israel In the morning, the group will head to Tzfat, where they’ll learn about the roots of Jewish mysticism and enjoy the renowned galleries and shopping that the city offers. Travel to this mystical city, learning about the birth of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, and the incredible customs, traditions, and artwork that lives here. The group will then meet members from Ma'alot, a unique community in the north of Israel. We will learn about their Jewish journeys, and take a deeper look at our own Jewish identity. The group will also have a chance to volunteer in their community garden, and take part in a community art project.
Day 7 – Young Refugees In the morning, the group will work with Yemin Orde Youth Village, a community of at-risk refugee and immigrant youth from around the world, providing them with therapeutic care and academic support. In the afternoon, they’ll continue the coexistence theme by visiting the beautiful Bahai Gardens, and touring Wadi Nisnas, an Arab community that uses art as the foundation for partnership with their Jewish neighbors.
Day 8 – Welcoming the Stranger Today the group will visit the Western Galilee Hospital, which treats Syrian refugees, and begin to build an understanding of the stories of the different groups that make up Israeli society, and the political complexities of the ways that each are welcomed and treated. We will then travel volunteer at a preschool teaching English to the Arab students. To close out the day, we make our journey to Jerusalem for an opening ceremony. This quick mentality shift, going from Tzfat to a hospital to a preschool, is typical of the Israeli life, to find and appreciate beauty and peace, and simultaneously be seeking support for those in such close proximity that are suffering.
Day 9 – The Reform Movement in Israel The group begins the day at Hebrew Union College meeting with rabbis from the Reform movement in Israel, and taking a tour of the beautiful building as we explore together the idea of a progressive, pluralistic Jewish society. We will then spend time at the Israeli Religious Action Center (IRAC), the social justice arm of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) before meeting with organization leaders of Women of the Wall, a powerful and famous organization that has been at the forefront of gender equality, and the rights of women at the Kotel. They will finish the day taking a tour of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem to learn about the incredible and complicated history of the city. Together we visit the Western Wall, with the chance to write down a personal prayer, and then head to Ezrat Yisrael, the egalitarian prayer section of the Wall for a discussion about liberal Judaism in Israel.
Day 10 – Why Israel? Today, the group with explore the real history behind the creation of the State of Israel, beginning with a powerful visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum, and then spending time in the Knesset, the Israeli government building. From there, they’ll visit Har Herzl, the military cemetery, and discuss the impact of mandatory military service both on the national culture, veteran’s affairs, and memorializing those who sacrifice for Israel, especially in comparison to military and veteran culture in the United States. They will then head to the hotel to prepare for Shabbat.
Day 11 – Shabbat in Jerusalem The group will mark Shabbat this morning by spending time with Israel's Channel 10 educational correspondent, Omri Maniv, for a discussion around the contemporary challenges and unique achievements in Israel’s educational system and everything you need or want to know about Jerusalem. The group will close out Shabbat together in downtown Jerusalem on Ben Yehuda Street, where we'll watch Israel come to life as the sun sets.
Day 12 – Exploration of Bedouin Culture In the morning, the group will visit a creative workshop with the opportunity to design a t-shirt design that supports a social cause you feel passionately about. We then travel to the Negev visiting alocal Bedouin community to learn about their tradition, ability to live in the harsh climate, and their culture. We will also get to meet a Bedouin woman who started a nonprofit to empower other Bedouin women in her community, and work alongside them to make some traditional Bedouin jewelry. Finish off the day with a camel ride, the traditional mode of transportation for nomadic people.
Day 13 – Masada and the Dead Sea
Bright and early, the group will hike up Masada just in time to see the sun rise over the hills of Jordan. After heading back down for breakfast, they’ll enjoy some time to float in the Dead Sea before heading to the solar farms at Kibbutz Yahel, where they’ll learn about the ways that Israel is on the cutting edge of environmental sustainability and alternative energy.
Day 14 – Development and Advancement We start our day at Red Mountain Riding Center (RMTRC) located at Kibbutz Grofit. RMTRC provides weekly horseback riding therapy for nearly 200 children and adults with physical and mental disabilities, as well as emotional and behavioral challenges. The RMTRC works toward the development of this unique therapy to mak it accessible to the population of a remote region that lacks many other essential medical services. We then visit a community of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) and a member of the Global Ecovillage Network, Kibbutz Lotan.
Day 15 – The Desert Landscape First up, the group will take a breathtaking hike, climbing through rocks and valleys with amazing views. We will then spend the afternoon on the beach in Eilat, snorkeling amongst the Red Sea corals. Close the day traveling to Nachal Kasui, the famous sand dunes, where we will slide down the views and enjoy the scenery.
Day 16 – Energy in the Desert The group will spend the first part of the day visiting Ketura, an off-the-grid village, learning how engineers have brought alternative energy to remote places, like the desert of Israel. From there, they’ll travel to Sde Boker and visit the grave of David Ben Gurion, while reflecting on the ways that visions come to life, and how to ensure that our actions as individuals, and organizations, are aligned with our values.
Day 17 – Farming the Desert Today we will learn about what it means to be a farmer in the middle of the desert by visiting Yossi on his KashKash Farm. We will have a chance to help him with his crops, and hear the story of his family’s connection to the region and of their ways of turning the harsh sands into fertile soil. After visiting Ramon Crater, we return to the hotel where we celebrate our third and final Shabbat in Israel.
Day 18 – Shabbat in the Desert Following a relaxing Shabbat morning, we will explore the rich history of Ethiopian tradition, the challenges that faced the community during and after their aliyah, mass immigration to Israel, and about the next generation of Ethiopian-Israeli identity. Naftali Aklum, an educator and activist in the Ethiopian community, will share his family story about his brother’s role in Operation Moses and their leadership in bringing Ethiopians to Be’er Sheva. We will then celebrate our last Havdallah in Israel around the bonfire.
Day 19 – Arrive in Tel Aviv Finishing our time in the desert, we will take an interactive walking tour of the Dalet neighborhood in nearby Be’er Sheva, the biggest city in the Negev. We will learn about urban social change, and the power of community, as you enter into the heart of a historically neglected neighborhood that today serves as a meeting point for social activism and urban renewal. The group will the travel to Tel Aviv where we will meet the Palestinian and Jewish activists that run Sadaka-Reut, an organization that works to build bi-national partisanship in the society they live in.
Day 20 – Experience Israel through Children’s Eyes Begin with an introduction to BINA, a secular yeshiva (school for religious studies), which creates opportunities for students to connect with Judaism through social justice and community engagement. After learning about their work, the group will volunteer in one of the community gardens that serves a non-Israeli population, and get to meet and spend time with members of the asylum seeking community. After seeing South Tel Aviv, the group will visit Save a Child's Heart, a nonprofit that has saved the lives of thousands of children from around the world. The group will have the opportunity to meet the team that works hard to make it happen, the doctors who do it, and volunteer to lead a science experiment with the kids who are in Israel for their life-saving surgery.
Day 21 – Progressive Social Issues For our final day in Israel, the group will visit Independence Hall, discussing the various ways that the Israel they’ve gotten to know thus far is aligned with, or disconnected from, the original vision for the State. We will then go to The LGBTQ Community Center in Tel Aviv. The Center’s mission is to ensure that every person, regardless of age, race, or gender, has the right to live freely. We will enjoy lunch and an afternoon of shopping at Shuk Ha’Carmel and the Carmel Market on the famous Nahalat Binaymin before closing out the trip, and heading to the airport.
Day 22 – Return to the United States The group lands bright and early into their domestic airport. Thank you for joining us!
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Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven - The Israel Scholarship program is open to high school students who live in the Greater New Haven are. Applications are due by March 9, 2019.
United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford - The Rabbi Alex J. Goldman Memorial Essay Contest is available for sophomores, juniors and seniors who reside in Stamford, New Canaan or Darien. First prize wins $1,000.
Jewish Federation of Delaware - The GRATZ High School Scholarship Fund of the Jewish Fund for the Future is awarded to high school students who are attending a summer Israel program.
The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore - The Community Fund for Israel Experience provides limited, need-based scholarships to high school students who are residents of Baltimore City/County. Applications are due by April 1, 2019.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington - Israel Quest offers up to $1,850 to high school students who reside in the Great Washington area.
Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston - In partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation, CJP offers scholarship for Israel travel programs that last a minimum of 12 days.
Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford - Grants for travel to Israel made possible by the Harvey Friedland Israel Youth Experience Memorial Fund and the Evelyn Rosen Youth Israel Travel Fund are available to Jewish teens residing in the Greater New Bedford area.
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey - Grants up to $1,000 are available for all high school students in the Greater MetroWest community.
Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey - Grants up to $1,000 are available for high school students who reside in Middlesex and Monmouth County.
Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon & Warren Counties - Scholarship is available for high school students visiting Israel for the first time with a recognized youth program.
Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey - Scholarship is available teens in grades 9-12 to attend an organized teen Israel experience for three weeks or more.
Jewish Federation of Central New York - The Israel Experience Grant offers scholarship for high school students who have not participated on an organized trip to Israel.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County - The Israel Experience Scholarship Fun offers partial scholarship for Jewish teens residing in Orange County.
Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York - Scholarship is available for teens wanting to participate on summer program to Israel.
Jewish Federation of Ulster County - Scholarship for summer programs in Israel is available for teens age 16-18.
UJA-Federation of New York - Israel Experience Center at UJA provides scholarship to teens in New York, Westchester and Long Island participating in a summer Israel program.
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia - Israel Program Scholarship Aid Fund offers scholarship for teens from the five-county Greater Philadelphia area who wish to travel to Israel.
Greater Altoona Jewish Federation - Jewish Y.E.S. provides needs based scholarships up to $2,500 for teens wishing to participate in an Israel program.
Jewish Community Alliance of Lancaster - JCAL helps students attend a summer trip to Israel.
Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh - Offers both need-based and non-need based scholarships up to $1,750 to send teens to Israel.
Jewish Federation of Reading - High school students who participate in NFTY in Israel can apply for an award up to $250 toward the cost of registration.
Jewish Federation of Lehigh Valley - Scholarship is awarded for teens in 9-12 grade who reside in the Lehigh Valley area who wish to travel on an Israel program.
Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island - The Jewish Alliance offers grants and needs-based scholarships for trips to Israel.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington - Israel Quest program provides up to $1,850 for participants from the Greater Washington area.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington - Israel Quest program provides up to $1,850 for participants from the Greater Washington area.
Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago - The Jewish United Fund and the Naftali Steinfeld Memorial Scholarship fund offers need-based scholarships for Israel travel for teens coming from the Chicago Metropolitan area.
Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis - Offers scholarship for Israel youth experiences to individuals up to 12th grade in the greater Indianapolis Jewish community. Application is due March 1, 2019.
Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley - Offers scholarship for Teen Israel trips for teens currently enrolled in high school.
Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation - The Israel Experience scholarship provides non-need based scholarships up to $1,250 for teens in grades 10-12.
Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City - The Rabbi Gershon Hadas Guardian Society for Children is a community fund to assist families in sending their teens on an Israel program.
Jewish Community of Louisville - The Ellen and Milton Cantor Israel Scholarship Fund provides an annual scholarship to a high school junior or senior from the greater Louisville area to subsidize the cost of an Israel trip.
Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass - Offers up to $1,000 for Jewish youth of central Kentucky who wish to participate in a high school Israel program.
Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor - High school students from the Greater Ann Arbor area provides up to $1,000 for travel to Israel on a summer program.
Minneapolis Jewish Federation - The Louis Herman Israel Experience Fund and the Israel Center Scholarship Fund both offer scholarship for teens ages 15-18 traveling on an Israel summer program.
Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul - St. Paul Israel Experience Scholarship offers scholarships for teens living in St. Paul who are participating on an approved Israel experience program.
Jewish Federation of St. Louis - Offers up to $750 for teens between 9th-12th grade who reside in St. Louis.
Jewish Federation of Lincoln - Provides funding for teens attending a program in Israel.
Jewish Federation of Omaha - There is a wide variety of financial-need base scholarship and grant funds available for teens traveling to Israel.
Jewish Federation of Cincinnati - Offers up to $6,500 for teens aged 16-18 who currently reside in Cincinnati.
Jewish Federation of Columbus - Israel Experience grants are for recipients of at least 14 years of age who became bar/bat mitzvah in Columbus, Ohio. Teens participating on a 4+ week high school trips can receive up to $2,000.
Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton - Dayton area Jewish teens are eligible to apply for the Wolfe Marcus Trust Youth Travel to Israel Scholarship.
Jewish Federation of Madison - Stipends up to $1,500 are avialble for high school students from Dane County participating in an Israel program for three weeks or longer.
The Jewish Federation of Central Alabama - Offers up to $1,000 for high schools students to visit Israel for the first time.
Jewish Federation of Arkansas - The Thalheimer Israel Scholarship fund offers scholarships for teens to travel to Israel.
Jewish Federation of Broward County - High school students from Broward County seeking to go to Israel for 3-8 weeks. Application opens in early 2019.
Greater Miami Jewish Federation - Offers need-based scholarship for Miami-Dade County residents for teens over the age of 15.
Jewish Federation of Greater Naples - Offers partial scholarships for educational programs and experiences in Israel for families residing in Collier County. App is due February 1, 2019.
Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County - Applicants must be living in Boynton Beach north through Vero Beach and have not received an Israel Experience Program scholarship in the past.
Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee - Provides up to $2,500 for Jewish high school students from Sarasota or Manatee County participating in an experiential or volunteer base program for at least 3 weeks.
Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans - The Edie and Paul Rosenblum Gift of Israel Program scholarship provides funding for high school students participant in an Israel summer program.
North Louisiana Jewish Federation - The Federation provides scholarship for trips to Israel for contributing members of the Federation.
Greensboro Jewish Federation - Greensboro Jewish Federation Greensboro Israel Experience Grant (residents of greater Greensboro) and The Jacke W. and Lottie K. Samet Israel Scholarship Fund (residents of Guilford country) are open to teens looking to participate in a program to Israel.
Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill - Offers up to $1,000 for high schools students who wish to participate in a summer program to Israel.
Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte - The Jewish Experience Fund and the Gorelick Teens to Israel Fund both offer scholarship for teens travel to Israel.
Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga - The Israel Grants provides up to $2,500 for teens who wish to participate in a travel program to Israel.
Memphis Jewish Federation - The Lemsky Fund offers subsidies for high school students to participate in summer programs in Israel.
Jewish Federation & Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee - The Mary & Harry Zimmerman Youth Exchange Endowment Fund offers grants for 9-12 graders traveling to Israel.
Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas - Offers need-based scholarship for Dallas teens to participate in a summer program in Israel.
Jewish Federation of Greater Houston - Offers need-based scholarship for a summer trip to Israel for Houston residents in 10-12 grade.
Jewish Federation of Greater El Paso - Offers finaincial aid for families who wish to send their teen on an Israel experience.
Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix - The Harold & Jean Grossman Teen Israel Experience Scholarship Fund is available for teens 15-18 years old who live in Greater Phoenix and are attending a program in Israel that lasts at least 16 days.
Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, The Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties - Provides multiple scholarship options, including need-based and need-blind scholarship for high school students in Sonoma and Marin Counties, San Francisco and the Peninsula from Mountain View north.
Jewish Federation of the East Bay - Scholarship is available for high school students who reside in Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, or Solano Counties.
Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles - The POST Partnership Grant offers up to $500 for participants traveling to Israel for the first time on a group trip.
Jewish Federation of San Diego County - My Israel Journey Teen Subsidy Program offers up to $1,750 for teens from San Diego County.
Jewish Federation & Family Services of Orange County - JFFS offers need and merit-based educational grants for high schools traveling on an Israel program.
Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley - Scholarship applications are accepted year-round for 9-12 graders affiliated with NFTY who wish to travel to Israel.
The Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region - The Jewish Federation provides up to $500 towards an approved organized trip to high school students.
Jewish Nevada - Israel Program Scholarships are for high school students participating in a peer-based Israel experience.
Jewish Federation of Greater Portland - Offers up to $1,800 for high school students traveling on an approved Israel program for at least 3 weeks. Application is due March 1, 2019.
The Jewish Federation of Lane County - Offers scholarship to local Jewish teens for travel to Israel.
Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle - Offers up to $3,000 for high school students who are permanent residents of Washington State. Apply by January 22, 2019 for the first round of applications.