Gift of Israel Matches Funds to Make Israel Experiences Possible
Studies show that an educational experience in Israel can have a transformative effect on a young Jewish adult. But for many families, a trip to Israel may seem financially beyond reach. That is why the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and participating synagogues established the Gift of Israel Savings Program, formerly known as Passport to Israel. The Gift of Israel Savings Program enables families to begin saving early for their child’s Israel experience – and enjoy the benefit of matching-dollar grants from community.
“Being able to send your child to Israel is a wonderful mitzvah,” Mikki Futernick, Israel Programs Committee Chairman, said. “And being able to do so with a possible $3,000 or more in savings makes it all the more wonderful.”
After a child is enrolled, families make a contribution of $100 per year, for up to 10 years. Federation will match $100 annually, and participating synagogues will also match $100 annually. In addition, family members and friends can make contributions to each child’s account; however, additional contributions are not matched. Click here for a list of participating synagogues.
If a family has participated for the entire program (10 years) beginning in first grade, and belongs to a participating synagogue, they will have saved $3,000, plus accrued interest, toward the cost of an Israel program.
To be eligible to participate in the program, a child must be in grades 1 through 10, and a resident of Miami-Dade County. Enrollment must be completed by December 31 and there is a minimum enrollment period of three years before funds can be used. Savings can then be spent from the end of the 8th grade to age 26, toward the cost of an educational trip to Israel.
“The Gift of Israel Savings Program gives young adults greater opportunities to take advantage of some of the remarkable Jewish educational programs available in Israel, such as a NFTY Summer Tour, NCSY, Alexander Muss High School in Israel, March of the Living, BBYO, USY, Yeshiva programs and MASA Long-Term Israel programs, to name a few,” Futernick said.
Savings program funds are also available for use toward Seminary programs, high school Israel trips, Hebraica School of Madrachim, Young Judaea Year Course and semester abroad programs. Funds cannot be used for participate on Taglit-Birthright Israel trips.
While funds may offset a significant portion of the cost of these programs, it won’t necessarily cover the entire amount. Closer to program start dates, a family can apply for additional scholarships for the selected program. Congregations, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and national organizations may also offer additional assistance.
If a participating family leaves the congregation or the child decides not to take an Israel trip, the congregation and family will receive a full refund of all contributions. Accrued interest will be re-deposited in Federation’s Gift of Israel Savings Program account. Another option is to donate the family’s accumulated funds to help a financially deserving child participate in an Israel program, and receive a tax deduction for their generosity.
The table below shows just how much you can accumulate before accrued interest. Additional contributions can also be made.