The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island provides stipends and needs-based grants to young adults through the age of 26 to travel to Israel for internships, academic study, tourism, volunteer work and much more. Previous recipients report that while their time in Israel was limited, the experience continues to resonate with them.
Recently, a former recipient wrote, “I am unsure as to whether or not I sent a thank you letter after the Israel trip I went on, which the Jewish Alliance so generously helped sponsor for me. This trip goes back a number of years, yet the positive impact it had on me stayed with me and continues to positively impact my life.
“I am moved and humbled by the dedication of this organization to helping the members of the Rhode Island Jewish community connect with Israel and our heritage.”
Asher Robbins, a senior at Barrington High School and a member of Temple Habonim, in Barrington, wrote the following essay about his recent experience in Israel.
Over the summer, I attended a trip to Israel through NFTY in Israel. It was a four-week trip, and I went with 48 other rising seniors from my summer camp. It was far and away the best trip that I have ever been on, and one of the most important months of my life.
We went all over the country, starting in the Negev, where we camped for three nights, then moving north to Jerusalem, then farther north to near the Lebanon border, and then returning to Jerusalem for the last week.
The best part of the trip was the sense of community that was present everywhere we went – with people on our trip, other NFTY in Israel groups, and even random people around the country.
If you think that your bonds with the kids from your summer camp are close, you will be blown away by how much stronger they become in Israel. Not only do you strengthen old bonds, but you become friends with people that you may have never talked to before. Traveling around together truly unifies you with all of your friends.
It was also great to be able to meet other Jewish teens from the United States. My group became particularly close on this trip with travelers from our sister camp, and I have and will continue to stay in touch with my new friends.
Being in Israel, you also feel a connection to everyone around you. It is a unique experience being somewhere that is predominantly Jewish. It is something that you never get to experience in the United States, and I did not know that I missed this until my trip.
Nearly every person, whether it be someone walking by you on the street, the woman selling you falafel, or the man selling you jewelry, is a member of the same culture and religion that you are, and the significance of this is hard to put into words, but you just feel like you belong.
In addition to forming amazing connections with people, the trip was just super fun and interesting. The places in the biblical stories that we read feel so distant and fake until you are swimming in them or standing on or near them.
The activities that we did were also great fun, whether it was kayaking in the Jordan River, hiking, running on sand dunes, or exploring Jerusalem.
This trip was fun, meaningful and interesting. I definitely feel a connection to Israel now that I never did before. I cannot wait to go back to Israel!
For more information about stipends and scholarships, as well as a savings program and $3,000 vouchers for many teen summer programs, contact IsraelDesk@jewishallianceri.org or call Larry Katz, director of Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Alliance, at 401-421-4111.