Strengthening students’ Zionist and Jewish identities

The 'Israeli Story' journey
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REQUESTED DONATION:

$274,800

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FOR DONATION

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PROGRAMS / EDUCATION

“Familiarity with the Land of Israel is necessary first and foremost in order to understand who we are. It is impossible to truly know or understand the Jewish people without knowing the history, the sites and the natural lay of the land. Here the spirit of our people was fashioned; here were created the great works that cast us into humanity’s limelight… Our familiarity with the Land is even more necessary to ensure our very continuity and our security. Peace and security will never come without our intimate knowledge of our land’s every path and treasure…”
– David Ben Gurion, founding Prime Minister of Israel

BACKGROUND

‘Israeli Story’ is a transformative 5-day program for Israeli students in grades 10-12. It is designed as both a physical journey into the natural beauty of Israel and a personal journey of self-discovery and self-development – to engage students in how they fit within Israel’s national story. It affords the students the powerful opportunity to grapple with the issues and divisions in Israeli society in a way that also builds cohesiveness. There is a focus on learning how to disagree respectfully and strengthening students’ commitment to the values of democracy and common good which underpin Israel. The journey ends with galvanizing students to join the Israeli story and engage with the challenges and opportunities therein.

The journey begins with a strenuous hike in the desert to refocus the students, shifts to more reflective discussions and culminates in a ceremony with the students’ parents and school community in Tel Aviv.

Students share:

“It was amazing – an unforgettable experience. Without a doubt, it has made an impression on me for life. The tools we acquired, the ideas we internalized, the love for the land, the State and the tradition have left me in awe many times over.”

“This is a journey into Zionism, Jewish identity and our sense of belonging to the land. The journey is not over and it left us with much to think about. For me, the journey is just beginning.”

Educators share:

“During the journey, we heard from all the students, even from those who do not usually express their opinion in public. We were exposed to new sides of
our students and we saw these young adults assume responsibility. Our hearts warmed at the new friendships that were forged. We all have life experiences that teach us who we are. During the journey, each of us learned where we stand vis-à-vis our friends, surroundings, country. We defined for ourselves our Israeli identity, and out loud, our Jewish identity. We asked what some remember with derision, ‘What can I do for my country?'”

“Our students say that ‘Israeli Story’ was the most meaningful and unforgettable trip of their lives so far. Our students returned home with stronger Jewish, Zionist and Israeli identity. The journey contributed to them very much: it enhanced feelings of belonging to the Jewish people and the State of Israel, encouraged them to become active in the community and widened their circle of acquaintances – between students, with teachers and with the counselor. Also, the students became familiar with important sites in the land of Israel and for them it was an ideal journey.”

IMPACT

90% of students stated that, as a result of the program, they are prouder to be Israelis.

87% of students stated that, as a result of the program, they are prouder to be Jewish.

86% of students stated that, as a result of the program, they feel more connected to the land of Israel, its landscapes and sites.

86% of Students stated that, as a result of the program, they have a stronger desire to enlist in the IDF / National Service.

81% of Students stated that, as a result of the program, they feel it is more important to volunteer in their community.

INVESTMENT

The ‘Israel Story’ journey is the culmination of six years of education in Jewish history, culture and national pride taught throughout students’ schooling. The transformative impact and, therefore, the importance of this project cannot be underestimated. However, the high cost associated with travel, lodging, and guides has become a major obstacle to implementing this valuable program across all high schools, particularly in lower socio-economic areas. In order to enable all students in Tel Aviv-Yafo’s high schools to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience, funding is needed for scholarships to subsidize 20% of the cost of this powerful program.

TOTAL DONATION REQUESTED $274,800.

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