In a powerful display of solidarity, 75 Jewish college students from the United States embarked on a transformative journey as part of the JLIC Winter Break Israel Solidarity Mission. This mission designed for college students provided a multifaceted experience that included an educational component, volunteering opportunities, and an impressive programmatic lineup, showcasing the unwavering commitment to solidarity and support for Israel.
One of the cornerstones of the mission was the educational component, where college students dedicated at least one week to immersive learning at their chosen Yeshiva or seminary. This provided them with a unique opportunity to deepen their understanding of Jewish culture, history, and spirituality. The intellectual exploration served as a foundation for the rest of the mission, setting the stage for informed and meaningful experiences.
The mission placed a strong emphasis on the value of giving back to the community through a mandatory ‘Day of Achdut’ (unity) – a day dedicated to various charitable opportunities. The heart of the Day of Achdut was the hands-on chesed (kindness) that took place on January 2, 2024. These included packing food for the needy at the PANTRY PACKERS complex, weaving Tzitzit in IDF jerseys at Beit Eretz Hamada, preparing sandwiches for needy children at Chabad Katamon, and packing equipment for soldiers in Arot
Each activity served a specific purpose, from providing essential food to crafting meaningful items for IDF soldiers, fostering a sense of connection and shared responsibility among the participants.
In addition to the mandatory day, participants had the option to extend their volunteering experience with two additional days of agricultural chesed. A group of students helped pick lettuce and provided needed assistance on a farm, further emphasizing the bond between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
The Day of Achdut began with opening remarks by Rav Doron Perez, Executive Chairman of the Mizrachi World Movement. His poignant words set the tone for the mission, sharing his personal journey and the challenges faced by his family, including the kidnapping and injury of his sons on October 7. Despite these hardships, he highlighted the resilience and determination that emerged from these difficult experiences.
The program also included two unique JLIC Yavneh programming elements – “The Incubator” and “Shtark Tank.”
An intriguing session titled “The Incubator: Developing Innovative Campus Programming During a Time of Crisis” took center stage. This session provided valuable insights into navigating challenges on campuses during periods of turmoil. Students gained practical knowledge and skills to address complex issues on their respective campuses, fostering a proactive and solution-oriented mindset.
Another notable feature was the “Shtark Tank,” a platform where students presented innovative ideas for potential JLIC investment. This entrepreneurial approach encouraged students to think creatively about addressing challenges and opportunities within their campus communities. It showcased a commitment to investing in initiatives that would have a lasting impact on Jewish life on college campuses.
The day concluded with a powerful panel discussion titled “Where were you on October 7 and how are you today?” Panelists shared personal stories of resilience, including experiences of a Miluim Soldier in Gaza, a spouse called up on October 7, a refugee from Kfar Maimon, and the Mayor of Efrat with family members serving in the IDF. This panel served as a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of unity in the face of adversity.
“…I’m a student at Rutgers university. After October 7th, I felt a little lost. I wanted to be in Israel and help out Israel, but I couldn’t. I felt sad and distant from the land I loved so much. Baruch Hashem, I was able to find the JLIC trip and I was able to come here and see my friends and family and to help build up the land for a precious few weeks…”
The success of the JLIC Winter Break Israel Solidarity Mission would not have been possible without the unwavering commitment and support of key individuals. Dr. Monique and Michael Katz demonstrated dedication to the cause, contributing significantly to the program’s success. Michael Staenberg’s generous underwriting of the Washington University contingent and Bruce Klein’s impactful donations played crucial roles in bringing this transformative and impactful program to life.
In conclusion, the JLIC Winter Break Israel Solidarity Mission of 2024 was a testament to the strength of unity, the power of education, and the impact of volunteerism. The mission not only deepened the participants’ connection to their Jewish roots but also equipped them with the knowledge and inspiration to be proactive leaders on their college campuses. As these students return to their respective communities, they carry with them the lessons learned, the memories created, and a renewed commitment to stand in solidarity with Israel.
Reach out to any of our Directors to learn more about JLIC and our programming.