The survival of the Jewish people has been a long journey ranging from the Pesach story to the holocaust. The threat was born almost purely from external forces. 70 years ago with the creation of the state of Israel, the gift for the next generation was to change the story from survival to thriving. Now the effort is being put into embracing this new opportunity locally.

As Israel thrives, it becomes a beacon for communities in the diaspora to feed off. This light is what lies behind the continued support of Youth 2 Israel (Y2i), which helps fund Year 10 educational programs to Israel. While the local Jewish community is small, relative to other cultures and religions, there is an energy, particularly from the generations who remember a time before the creation of the state of Israel, to ensure it also starts to thrive. These generations are behind Y2i.

Jeremy Dunkel is the Board Chair of Y2i. “Since the official launch of Y2i in 2015, we have been privileged to earn the support of so many who believe firmly in investing in our community’s future. It is a long-term investment in the belief that experiencing Israel in an educational setting amongst peers for five weeks or more, will be transformative in the short and long-term.”

Y2i has already gifted $5,000 vouchers to 935 students, resulting in a 179% increase in participation compared to the year before the pilot program in 2014.

The reaction of the students to the programs is best summed up in words most commonly uttered by them, “life-changing“.

Jeremy says, “What this generation can experience in Israel is amazing. It is a blend of history, religion, culture, modern living and technology. But just as important is the bonds which are created based on a realisation of a shared link to their Jewish heritage.”

It is only now that some of the students who were part of the pilot program are starting to find their place in the local community. A number have just returned from post-high school programs in Israel.

Jeremy continues, “The challenge of inspiring our youth has only just begun, and it will be some years before we can truly measure the impact the programs are having. What we can say now is, there has been a huge momentum shift in the community in seeing the importance of the Year 10 Israel programs. Breaking the cost barrier for them has been a great success as the number of participants shows.”

While programs which include each of the Jewish Day Schools operate at close to 90% participation, it is in reaching other schools where the shift has been most notable.

“When you look at the variety of schools where students came from in 2017, it is quite remarkable. We have students where they may be the only one in their school year who has a Jewish parent, going on the BJE program. This year we already have a very diverse group who have indicated they will come to an Information Night.”

Any student in NSW, QLD and the ACT, with at least one parent who is Jewish, is eligible for a $5,000 voucher. Register now to attend the Information Night.