Can Enhanced Education in Teen Israel Travel Make a Greater Impact?

Published on July 6, 2023

Teen summer programs in Israel have been getting a new and refreshing wave of support in recent years. RootOne is a rising organization in this sector, whose mission is to give teens access to meaningful experiences in Israel that strengthen their Jewish identity, earlier.

Within this growing trend of teen summer experiences in Israel, lies another opportunity – to deepen the educational component. RootOne has set out to up the ante on the typical teen trip to Israel by way of pre-trip educational programming that makes the trip of a lifetime that much more impactful. Through the use of high-level educational content that focuses on all facets of Israel, from the familiar to the more nuanced and complex, North American Jewish teens return home with the confidence to continue engaging in conversations as well as other Israel experiences for years to come.

With RootOne, education isn’t just an add-on, it’s an integral part of the program. Participants, who are entering 10th, 11th or 12th grade, are required to complete 18 nekudot, or credits, through the RootOne Teen Portal in order to be eligible for a $3,000 Voucher to offset the cost of their trip. These educational experiences are centered around 18 outcomes, in areas like sense of self, connection to their Jewish identity, and connection to the State of Israel.  There are three phases of RootOne Early Experiences prior to departure for Israel. Part One requires the teens to select one of three Israel Tracks: History and Politics, Peoplehood and Culture, or Zionism. These tracks integrate education with the experiences that are on their scheduled itinerary in Israel and begin at a more introductory level, moving to a deeper understanding of their selected topic. In Part Two, RootOne participants will be able to foster meaningful peer relationships with Israelis their age. With the help of the Israeli organization ENTER Peoplehood, RootOne has implemented a pen pal-type program that matches North American teens with Israeli high school students who share similar interests for a series of one-on-one conversations. These cross-cultural dialogues are a unique part of RootOne’s programming, as they strengthen the connection that American teens have to the land, state, and people of Israel. Finally, Part Three is made up of elective content, offering deeper dives or gamified workshops on topics such as The Abraham Accords, Israeli Identity and Society through Music and Pop Culture, and What is Zionism and Why It Matters.

The educational component of the RootOne experience is fundamental, as it contextualizes Israel and is essential to a nuanced approach to the country. To further ensure that these experiences have a lifelong impact, trip providers affiliated with RootOne also create post-trip plans to engage the teens when they are alumni. These plans include opportunities for continued engagement in Israel and in Jewish life on a local and regional levels and are further complemented by RootOne on a national level.

RootOne recognizes that it’s not enough just to get Jewish teens to Israel. A real bond, with strong foundations in education and interpersonal relationships, needs to be fostered in order to create a lifelong connection between young North American Jews, Jewish life, and to Israel.

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