The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is committed to INVESTING donor dollars in Israel experiences for teens, such as Young Ambassadors and March of the Living. Following the logic of the many studies that show that Birthright participants are 42% more likely to feel connected to Israel than those who don’t go on a mission OR that they are 45% more likely to marry someone Jewish than a nonparticipant, our leadership feels that offering high school students an Israel experience will create a deeper attachment to Israel and to their own Jewish identity. High school is an extremely formative period when more complex thinking, including political and religious ideology, is seriously examined and when dating habits are formed.
In 2014, our Federation sent its largest delegation to date on the March of the Living Mission. As well, we had more than 10 students participate on other mission experiences through Young Ambassadors and the Send a Kid to Israel Program. For the first time, our Federation provided scholarships for two high school students to spend a semester in Israel through the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program.
By INVESTING in our teens, the future of our Jewish community, we work to ensure the continuity of our Jewish people and a long-term attachment to Israel. The best way to demonstrate the impact these trips have on our teens is to hear from them directly…
>> The Young Ambassadors trip has had a positive impact on participants and has encouraged them to become more involved in advocating for Israel and getting more in touch with their Judaism. If it wasn’t for the Bob Malkin Young Ambassador Teen Leadership Program, local teens’ lives may have gone very different ways and they may not have been as involved Jewishly as they are today.
Samara Robbins (Young Ambassador ’12)
>> This [March of the Living] trip has increased my faith in Judaism so much that I now view it as something so fundamental, it is inseparable from myself. Being able to share this experience through two very different countries with so many other Jews proved to me Judaism is alive and strong and that the Nazis did not win. This trip made me so thankful for all of the fundamental blessings that I have in my life. However, this is a March which is not yet complete. I have learned that we need to be upstanders to make sure that the Holocaust never happens again.
Brandon Ikeman (March of the Living ’13)
>> Because of this journey, I made the decision to have my Bat Mitzvah 5 years late. Being in the holiest place on the planet made me realize what Judaism truly means and I really connected to my inner Jew. Going to the Western Wall and praying in the presence of a divine spirit was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
Erica Brown (Young Ambassador ’14)
100 Days of Impact started on September 22 and will run through the end of 2014. Each week we will demonstrate the the collaborative impact that we and our donors make locally and globally.
You are the Jewish community. This is your Federation. Together, we do extraordinary things!