Students prepare to "Jump for Israel."
Determined to show solidarity with Israel, a group of 20 New York area college students took to the sky on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in December for the first “Jump for Israel.” This daylong skydiving event was an opportunity for the students to raise money and awareness for Israel. Asking friends and family to sponsor their tandem jump, they collected over $500 and donated it to the American Friends of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
“This definitely was a real action-based, out-of-the-box idea, but it got the students excited and involved,” acknowledged Elit Goldberger, Israel Fellow at Queens College.
On the day of their jump, which had been rescheduled three times due to poor weather conditions, the group was joined by two former IDF soldiers. The soldiers answered the students’ questions about life in the Israeli Army and even participated in the skydiving. The students were also presented with flags from the different units in the IDF.
Another important component of the day was a letter-writing campaign on behalf of the three kidnapped Israeli soldiers: Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. The students signed postcards to be sent to the United Nations and the Red Cross urging the organizations not to forget about the soldiers.
“When we heard Gadi Goldwasser speak [brother of Ehud] we asked him what we could do. Could we donate money? He said ‘No, put pressure on the international community,” said Touro College senior, Binny Steinig. “So 20 students showed support and said ‘We want our soldiers back.’”
After their day of skydiving and letter writing, the students and former soldiers were treated to an Israeli-style dinner of shwarma and falafel by the MASA, the Jewish Agency-sponsored organization that promotes long-term programs in Israel.
“It was fun going out on an edge and doing it for a cause,” said Queens College sophomore Josh Gross. “Besides jumping out of planes for Israel, I think maybe next we should go hang gliding!”