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The Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future



The Challenge

Being an engaged, committed Jew in the 21st century requires a deep connection with Israel. And while formal education plays a substantial role in establishing this connection, it is most effectively created by visiting the country. One cannot help but be moved by its beauty, religious significance and dynamic and diverse people and cultures.

Many of our community organizations already see the tremendous value in supporting Israel travel, but the overall expense of Israel experiences remains a major obstacle for many families. One in four local Jewish families reported that cost prevented them from going to Israel or from sending a child to Israel. Each year, about 20% of local teens – about 120 – travel to Israel through organized teen trips.

This means about 80% – or more than 400 each year – are missing out on this tremendously valuable and rewarding experience that will secure their Jewish future by forging links to Israel and the Jewish people. These numbers are in line with national averages, but so much more can be done to encourage Israel travel by teens in the Pittsburgh region.

The Solution

Israel travel programs are es­sential to Jewish continuity.  For young people, they occur during a period when intense experiences have permanent effects on identity development. An immersive, meaningful trip to Israel with other Jewish youth is tremendously effective in creating a lasting bond between Israel and a new generation of Jewish lead­ers. Teen Israel travel is also found to increase the sense of Jewish connectedness beyond ties to Israel.

Travel to Israel almost doubles the likelihood of synagogue membership later in life and more than doubles the likelihood that young Jews see being Jewish as "very important."  It also has the same impact on Jewish identity in adult­hood as attending a Jewish day school for one to six years, or attending Hebrew school for seven to 12 years.

CFJF recognizes the significant impact that Israel travel can have on young people and funding for trips is a priority. Currently, the Fund is supporting Taglit-Birthright Israel to provide the gift of first time, peer group, educational trips to Israel for Pittsburgh area Jewish young adults, ages 18 to 26. CFJF continues to work with numerous programs to fund other Israel travel opportunities.

The General

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President Nixon asks Prime Minister Golda Meir to send General Moshe Dayan to the United States in return for any three generals she wants.

Golda agrees. "We'll give you General Dayan. You give us General Motors, General Electric, and General Telephone."