Dozens of families explored the possibilities of their teenage children visiting Israel at Congregation Olam Tikvah’s Experience Israel Fair on Jan. 23.
Four veterans of Israel programs during their high school and college days spoke about their experiences and encouraged parents to let their children go.
“I believe in Jewish teens doing Jewish things,” said Lindsey Rubin, who participated in the Israel and Young Judea Year Course, a gap-year program. “I think that’s how you build Jewish community. I hope that they decide that this is something that they want to do.”
She spent one semester studying in Jerusalem, followed by a semester living in Tel Aviv. She said about 20 percent of people who take her program make aliyah within 10 years.
High schooler Seth Blumenthal took part in the United Synagogue Youth’s EPIC Israel program. He urged other high schoolers to take part in a peer trip. He said the connection he made with other kids his age amplified what he learned about Israel and about himself.
Because of his experiences in Israel, he was glad to help spread the word about it to the fair’s attendees and convince others to partake in these programs.
“Hopefully at least one person who is listening today is going to go on a trip just like I did,” Seth said. “And then hopefully come back to talk about it and convince more people to go on trips like this. I feel like it’s an amazing experience that everybody deserves to have and should have.”
Israel program representatives sat at tables in the synagogue’s social area. Near the USY table, high schooler Daniel Cate said he was interested in the EPIC Israel program.
“Just the general connection that us Jews have with Israel makes me want to go there,” Daniel said.
This event was organized by Olam Tikvah’s shlichah, Mala Hod.
“My job is to bring Israel over here,” Hod said. “But at the end of the day, there is nothing like bringing people to Israel.”