Congregations organize teen Israel trip

Aiming at deepening our teens’ connections to Israel and Judaism, St. Louis’ Reform congregations have launched “Israel Bound St. Louis,” a 24-day journey to Israel for all current high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. Students will leave St. Louis June 10, 2008 and return on July 3.

A committee of rabbis and educators has been working on creating this trip for two years. Taking their cue from a variety of recent reports and surveys that indicate the significant impact traveling to Israel has on Jewish identity development, the committee sought to create an opportunity for meaningful travel to Israel in a timeframe that would be attractive to students and their parents. The committee is also making plans for pre-trip community building, education and preparation.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Rabbi John Franken (Temple Israel) and Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg (United Hebrew) researched a number of Israel trip providers and chose NFTY Israel to assist them in the creating this trip. “NFTY Israel trips are safe, educational and fun,” Rabbi Rosenberg commented. “NFTY Israel has 50 years of experience and a perfect track record for safety and quality.”

“We are excited about offering a trip to Israel for our students that gives them the opportunity to travel with friends from the St. Louis Reform Jewish community,” said Rabbi Franken. “We believe our program could well become a model for other communities around the country.”

It has been a number of years since any kind of St. Louis teen trip to Israel has been organized. “We are particularly excited to be making our inaugural trip during Israel’s 60th anniversary year,” said Rabbi Joshua Taub (Temple Emanuel) of the Association of Reform Rabbis. “My colleagues and I are committed to making sure everyone of our students who wishes to join us may in fact do so regardless of financial circumstances.”

Online registration and information are now available at: Scholarships are available from NFTY, St. Louis Federation through CAJE, and students’ individual congregations.