RootOne Israel Trips Inspire Future Hillel Leaders



September 1, 2023

Jayne Samborn and friends in Israel on an NCSY trip, standing in front of the Western Wall.

Hillel International professionals travel all over the U.S. and the world to interact with Jewish students; visiting campus Hillels, staffing Birthright Israel trips, and running immersive experiences throughout the summer. On this particular trip to Israel, Hillel International staff members attended a unique event that brought together 5,000 Jewish American high school students who were traveling in Israel on trips with RootOne

RootOne provides funding for teens ages 13-18 to travel to Israel with programs that span the entire spectrum of the Jewish community. Students receive scholarships to go on Israel trips with youth groups like BBYO, NCSY, their local communities, and more. Each summer, RootOne also hosts a Big Tent Event where all the teens participating in life-changing Israel trips have the chance to connect with each other and celebrate their time in Israel.

Teens who go on RootOne-funded trips find themselves seeking out more opportunities to engage in an inspiring global Jewish community after they return back home, graduate from high school, and begin their college experiences. And they often find those opportunities at Hillel. Skyler Roth, a second-year student at the University of Buffalo said, “I made lifelong friends and memories on my six-week trip to Israel with USY in high school. That experience made me realize how important it is for me to have Jewish friends, which led me straight to Hillel of Buffalo as a first-year.”

Similarly, Jeremy Rosenwald, a second-year student at the University of Kansas, reflected that his experience traveling to Israel on a RootOne-funded trip inspired him to seek out Jewish leadership opportunities that he would have never considered before. As a programing intern at KU Hillel, Jeremy reflected, “In addition to incredible leadership opportunities, the KU Hillel community gives me a chance to continue exploring my Jewish identity, which I started doing on my trip to Israel in high school.”

At this year’s Big Tent Event, teens shared their excitement and dreams about continuing their Jewish journeys with Hillel International staff as they discussed plans to move out of high school and into college. They asked questions, discussed fears and hopes, and spoke about the meaning and inspiration they found in Israel over the summer that they wanted to carry with them into their futures. 

As Jayne Samborn, who participated in an NCSY Israel trip with support from RootOne, put it, “I learned about myself, my religion, and my community. I am so thankful that I had this experience. I’m excited to explore Hillel as a great way to stay connected with my Jewish identity in college.”