Hillel is giving students the opportunity to immerse themselves in meaningful Jewish experiences in Israel (left) and Miami (right).
Thousands of Jewish students from around the world are participating in immersive experiences during winter break thanks to Hillel. Whether the destination is Israel, Miami or elsewhere, Hillel's alternative break trips provide students with an opportunity to delve deep into their Jewish identities and advance their Jewish journeys.
For the 12th year, Hillel is giving 2,400 Jewish students the opportunity to experience Israel for the first time through Taglit-Birthright Israel.
At the beginning of his Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, University of Pennsylvania student Andrew Roberts wrote: "I can't believe we are really here. It's incredible. It's hard to believe how much we have seen and learned in just two days. Is this even real? We all shared important Jewish memories. I have a feeling that our Jewish memory banks are about to receive a huge deposit!"
In Miami, Hillel is partnering with City Year, the national service organization, to engage Jewish college students in week-long Alternative Breaks with hands-on service. With the generous support of Repair the World, the students are not only helping at-risk communities to improve their lives, but are learning about the Jewish concept of tzedek, social justice.
Following a day of service, the students met with a group of homeless men and women from Miami. The students wrote: "Every person in the room was mesmerized by what they had to say. It was incredible for them to open up to us and tell us of their lives, the immense hardships they went through, and how they overcame everything. The stories brought some of the speakers to tears, as well as many of the listeners. It was an experience that I'm sure none of us will forget any time soon. We all learned that everyone has some good in them and can make something of their lives even if they have gone through a lot."
Hillel is also partnering with the American Jewish World Service, The Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Funds for Justice to provide immersive experiences. Hillel Uruguay is sponsoring an alternative break program as well.
Follow the students' journeys on their blogs:
Hillel-City Year Alternative Break
Main blog: http://hillelcityyear.blogspot.com/
University of Delaware: http://udhillel.blogspot.com/2011/01/bienvenido-miami.html
Taglit-Birthright Israel: Hillel Trips
University of Texas http://www.texashillel.blogspot.com/
Baltimore Campuses http://tuhillel.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/greetings-from-israel/
University of Florida http://ufhillel.blogspot.com/2010/12/update-2-uf-hillel-in-israel-birthright.html
University of Pennsylvania http://upennhillel.blogspot.com/2011/01/spirit-of-negev.html
Hillel/American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee