We often say IsraelNow is a transformative and rewarding experience for Jewish eighth graders. It’s an immersive and guided journey that teaches them as much about themselves as it does about their heritage. And while a deeper bond with Israel and a stronger connection to Judaism are the ultimate goals, we want our travelers to take away so much more.
So, what are the top lessons learned on IsraelNow trips?
1. Curiosity helps us grow
Traveling to a new country can be intimidating, but it can also be an exciting opportunity to see the world and create new memories. We’ve had eighth graders join us who have never left home and others who have been to Israel many times before with their families. In each instance, they set flight with open minds—eager to experience and learn new things.
“IsraelNow gave me the opportunity to experience Israel in a new light. I was never expecting to become as close as I did with the Israelis nor did I think I would feel as fulfilled as I do now. It opened me up to a whole new world.” – IsraelNow participant, 2019
We believe that to truly understand something, we must experience it. It’s a powerful feeling to watch as rambunctious teens go silent when they see the Western Wall. How they dive into Israeli cuisine and are hungry to learn about the culture. And how they uncover artifacts from the past while discovering new pieces of their future. It’s that curiosity and desire to learn that helps them grow, both as a person and as a Jew.
2. The little things bring us together
Being able to see different lives and hear different perspectives is beyond impactful during this pivotal moment in your eighth grader’s life. What’s even more valuable is seeing how these differences can actually bring us all together and unite us.
“IsraelNow was such a wonderful experience! It helped me to understand that Jews share a connection no matter where they’re from.” – IsraelNow participant, 2019
One of our favorite parts of IsraelNow trips is Track Days, where your teen can choose from a group of activities to find what best suits their unique personal interests. Perhaps they want to engage in a social justice project? Spend more time exploring local sports? Experience local cuisine? Whatever they choose, the idea is for them to get a chance to encounter Israel in their own way. These activities also help them form stronger connections with new friends and the land.
3. Our history can strengthen our future
Every IsraelNow trip includes a mix of historical and prominent destinations with modern activities and sights. From hiking Masada to swimming in the Dead Sea to exploring Tel Aviv, each day of our week-long journey is filled with chances to strengthen the ties to your teen’s heritage—and form bonds that will last long after they return home.
In fact, many of our alumni have continued to explore their heritage and get more involved in their Jewish community back home. 9 out of 10 travelers are likely to take up Jewish activities in high school after their trip.
“[IsraelNow] made me love Israel so much more and got me interested in Hebrew, Judaism, Israeli culture, etc. I’m going to take Hebrew as a class in high school and possibly spend a semester in Israel.” – IsraelNow participant, 2019
4. Always be true to who you are
Teens can be easily influenced by their peers at this age. That is why it’s so important to give them a safe space and the independence to nurture their Jewish identity and grow their Jewish roots.
“Going to Israel made me re-think my Jewish identity. Before Israel, I was ‘unsure’ about being Jewish. I thought it meant prayers and going to a synagogue a lot. After visiting Israel, I feel a different way toward Judaism. I believe it means looking after and caring for other people. It also means being true to who you are and to fight for it.” – IsraelNow participant, 2019
If you’re ready for your eighth grader to join us on the experience of a lifetime, then fill out an application form to register for an upcoming trip. Still have questions or want to know more about IsraelNow? Join us for an informational session in your city or contact your local IsraelNow program!