Big jump in numbers for Year 10 Israel programs
There are currently 274 students in Israel participating in Year 10 programs. That is 48 more than last year, proving the success of the voucher system implemented by Youth 2 Israel (Y2i). Every Year 10 student in NSW/ACT/QLD, with a parent who is Jewish, is eligible for a $5,000 voucher towards an approved Israel-based educational program of five weeks or more.
The newly released Y2i Annual Report shows there has been a 75% increase in participation since 2014. Upwards of 79%.of eligible students in Emanuel, Masada and Moriah are now in Israel. There is significant momentum in the Jewish Day Schools, with students talking about the program as soon as they reach high school.
The primary target for future growth, according to the Chair of Y2i, Jeremy Dunkel, is those students who are not in a Jewish Day School. “We have already seen an impressive 65% increase in numbers for the BJE Emet Israel program, but we know we are still only scratching the surface.”
Challenges and initiatives
The challenge for Y2i is engaging families who have limited involvement with the Jewish community.
Jeremy says, “Our strategy is not to just limit our interaction to getting people to signup., With the cooperation of other communal organisations, we are seeking to engage students from an earlier age. We are always looking for new ways to reach out, and find advocates at different schools who will introduce us to more families.”
Money is no longer an obstacle for families. Supplementary means-tested assistance is available to those who need help to bridge the gap in the costs. On the other side, those families who can afford it, are actively being encouraged to give the vouchers back. In 2016, around 12% of families returned over $111,000.
With over 50% attending non-Jewish Day Schools, the challenge is in finding families and reaching out to them, so they know about the programs and vouchers. Some initiatives have been put in place by Y2i to engage families from a younger age. For example, Y2i is making presentations at all Bar and Bat Mitzvahs in every Synagogue.
Another initiative which has gathered momentum is the creation of a Youth Board, with representatives from the prior year participants, joining forces to initiate activities. This group of young leaders from various schools is helping shape ways to foster a sense of Jewish community further.
Youth 2 Israel is active on social media, particularly Facebook where we have released exclusive videos. Our most recent, titled “Why be Jewish” has attracted around 10,000 views. Through the page, Y2i will be following the student’s journey through Israel. Jeremy adds, “We want to keep families updated and inspire others to register for the coming years.”
You can read more information about the achievements of the past year and what is planned moving forward in the 2016 Annual Report.
“We exceeded our projections for this year, with the number of students going. Our aim is to increase it even further for the 2017 Year 10’s,” says Jeremy.
Encourage people you know to register their children, to be kept informed about future programs and to ensure they are aware they can access the $5,000 vouchers.