The increasing number of $5,000 vouchers granted to every student by Youth 2 Israel (Y2i) has driven a surge in the popularity of Year 10 Israel programs. Registrations for the 2017 group promise to set new records.
One of the highlights of the 5-6 week programs is the Y2i Community Day, where almost 300 students from all schools came together. It is an opportunity for students from Emanuel, Masada and Moriah to mix with those from all other public and private schools.
One of the best outcomes of Y2i programs is a new sense of community which crosses school boundaries. Simone Conver from Killara High School was among the recent participants. She says, ”The friendships I’ve formed with people on the program are much deeper and definitely more sincere than most friendships from school.”
Students can be hesitant about going because they may not know anyone on the programs. Talia Barel from St George High School was the only Jewish student from her school who went on the trip. She says, “The minute I stepped on the plane I felt already so connected to everybody. There is such a strong sense of community, it was very easy to click with people.”
Since returning from Israel, there have been several informal catch-ups arranged by the students. Aside from the shared experience, there is a deeper bond, and life-long friendships have been formed.
Last year Y2i introduced a Youth Leadership Board, with representatives from the recently returned students coming together to arrange post-program activities. A new group of students will form this year’s Board, with their role to spill into social media and trying to gather support among the 2017 Year 10 group.
The Y2i Facebook page, featuring photos, article and lots of videos, has become a regular online point of connection for parents, students and grandparents. Jeremy Dunkel, the Chair of Y2i says, “Social media is another important way we can encourage the sense of community. It’s also a way of helping us reach out to more people. This year, we want to see another jump in the number of participants.”
An Information Night will be held on 27 April for students from public and private schools. Registration is through a dedicated page – click here to access it. Details of the venue will be forwarded to you. Still register, even if you can’t make that date, because a second date will be announced.
The only criteria to receive a $5,000 Y2i voucher is living in New South Wales, the ACT or Queensland having at least one parent who is Jewish. There is also additional means-tested assistance to help those outside of the Jewish Day Schools who need further support.
Jeremy adds, “The reason Y2i continues to push to involve more and more students is because we know it will have a long-term positive impact on Jewish continuity. Please, register for the information night, just so you can be informed about the incredible opportunity we are making affordable.”
(This article was also published in the Sydney Jewish Report which can be viewed here