By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
Israel is part of the DNA of Jewish peoplehood. To know and understand Israel’s story is to gain a strong sense of Jewish belonging.
It’s important for Jewish children to learn about Israel from books, films, Jewish camp, and one-on-one from the shinshinim who spend a year in our community, as part of a formative Jewish experience. Yet there’s nothing like visiting Israel to fully experience and internalize the centrality of Israel to Jewish life. Immersing oneself in the culture, seeing up close the ancient land that is the backdrop of our people’s stories and traditions, witnessing Israel’s dynamism, and getting to know Israel’s people in all their amazing diversity is an unforgettable, life-changing event in the life of a child.
Your Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle believes that every Jewish teen should have the opportunity to travel to Israel and be exposed to Israel up close. With the support of our many generous donors, legacy supporters, and the Samis Foundation, the Federation offers Israel experience scholarships to teens in our community every year. Applications for scholarships are now open, and we encourage parents to apply. The first-round deadline for turning in completed applications is Sunday, October 17, so don’t wait!
Teens invariably return from Israel with penetrating, thoughtful insights about the experience and what it has meant for their emerging sense of Jewish identity. I want to share a couple of the reflections that young people have sent us over the years, just to give you a sense of the powerful impact an Israel experience can make on a teen in the company of their peers.
“The last thing we did in Israel was probably the most meaningful of everything we did on the trip. We planted a tree, following the famous statement from Taanit 23a, ‘I found a fruitful world, because my ancestors planted it for me. Likewise, I am planting for my children.’”—Naftali
“We prayed, we learned about the fall of the first two temples, we visited what felt like millions of historic sites, and every time I was thinking, ‘This is me. This is my Judaism and my history and my right.’ This trip was potentially the first time I ever felt connected to my ancestry as a Jew, the first time it felt right to say that I can lay claim to my heritage.’”—Miriam
As both Miriam and Naftali realized, visiting our Jewish homeland imbues teens with an enduring sense of belonging that will influence their lives and the lives of the people around them for many years to come.
Making it possible for your teen to deepen their sense of connectedness to Israel is a way you can help ensure Jewish continuity, now and for the future. Please consider giving your child this invaluable experience and apply today for a teen Israel scholarship.
Thanks to all of our supporters for making this life-changing experience possible for so many teens. You’re helping to make an impact on youth today to ensure a strong, vibrant Jewish future.