Hundreds of Miami-Area Young Adults Experience Israel
In the true spirit of the Miami-Yerucham “people-to-people” partnership, several groups of Jewish young adults and teens from South Florida recently had the opportunity to meet and interact with residents of the Negev Desert city when they traveled to Israel on educational and leadership programs organized by Federation-funded programs and agencies. While each sponsoring organization had different itineraries and objectives for its trip, all seek to foster a deep connection with Israel and encourage greater involvement in the Jewish community.
Teens enrolled in the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMSHI) toured Yerucham’s community center and saw firsthand how Miami’s relationship with the city is enriching the lives of residents. With a curriculum focused on learning about historical Jewish events at the actual sites where they took place, the AMSHI trip to Yerucham was able to also provide a valuable lesson about Israel’s current efforts to develop the Negev. Conducted in chronological historical order, classes were held atop a mountain, at the beach and inside an ancient fortress, allowing the students to experience the country as a “living classroom.” AMSHI receives funding from the Annual Greater Miami Jewish Federation/UJA Campaign.
The School of Madrichim at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center, a Federation local partner agency, took their students to Israel for four weeks after the high school sophomores completed a year-long Leadership Training Program. During their visit to Yerucham, they met with teens from the community center and enjoyed activities such as dance, radio and DJ workshops, as well as bike-riding in the desert. The Leadership Training Program promotes Jewish identity and develops young Jewish leaders so that they are able to work with children and teens in the community. Completion of the program enabled the youngsters to put their newly-learned leadership skills and appreciation of Judaism to full use during their time in Israel.
As part of their school’s annual end-of-the-year ninth-grade trip, freshmen from the Ben Lipson Hillel Community High School joined their peers in Yerucham, where they took part in a series of team-building exercises and enjoyed a barbecue dinner. The Miami and Yerucham teens came together, got to know each other and made friendships. In addition, the Miami teens hiked the Golan, soaked up the sun in Eilat, took a tour of historic Masada, and shopped for souvenirs in Tel Aviv. The Ben Lipson Hillel Community High School is one of 12 Jewish day schools in Miami-Dade County that receive funding from the Annual Federation/UJA Campaign. Federation also provided additional scholarships for this ninth-grade trip and for students from the Michael-Ann Russell JCC’s School of Madrichim, helping to make the programs accessible to more participants.
Taglit-Birthright Israel is a highly successful, Federation-funded program that provides the gift of free first-time, peer-group, educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults, ages 18 to 26. This summer, during a special Taglit-Birthright Israel trip organized by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, participants visited with residents of the Ayalim Student Village who live and volunteer in Yerucham; completed an art project and socialized with residents of the Senior Center; and enjoyed a group bike ride through the Yerucham area. In addition, the young adults visited many of Israel's major touring sites, including Jerusalem, Masada, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv and more.
With its fascinating blend of history, breathtaking desert scenery and friendly residents, Yerucham will continue to be a desirable travel destination for Miami residents, and Federation and other organizations will certainly include the city in upcoming itineraries. One such opportunity will be during the Miami Mega Mission, taking place April 22-May 1, 2012. Learn more about this exciting journey by clicking here.