Each winter hundreds of YU students choose to spend their vacation time engaged in social service trips that, while inspiring and fun, leave little time for sleeping in. This year, the Center for the Jewish Future’s annual Winter Missions include trips to Nicaragua, Mexico, Israel, Ukraine, and travel around the US.

Two separate missions to Israel are being supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation. “Tzedek and Tzedaka” will have men and women, in separate programs, spend each morning immersed in Torah study with YU roshei yeshiva and learning about the relationship between Tzedek (justice) and Tzedaka (charity). In the afternoons, they will explore firsthand how those values manifest in real-life situations in education, social welfare, politics, and religion. “Art in Ort,” a new program, will take students to work with teens from low-income neighborhoods in Jerusalem and help them discover their inner artists. Through artistic workshops and creative projects, the teens will have the opportunity to hone their talents in a warm and nurturing environment created by YU students.

Participants in “Jewish Life Coast to Coast,” which is also being supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation, will travel to San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver to explore the concept of Jewish community. Students will meet with rabbis, educators and communal and lay leaders, and facilitate educational programs in schools, synagogues, and community centers. Hands-on volunteer projects will also help students gain a better understanding of what it means to contribute to the whole of a community and work to make it a better place, hopefully taking inspiration back to their own hometown communities.

Alumni in the cities visited will have the opportunity to meet YU students who are passionate about changing the world for the better and who serve as great emissaries for your alma mater. Help pitch in with some of the projects on those days:
In San Francisco: from January 13-17
In Seattle: from January 18-19
In Vancouver: from January 20-22

Project Kharkov, in partnership with the Joint Distribution Committee and support from the Eckstein family, will allow participants to gain insight into the welfare and identity struggles facing the Jews of Ukraine and to engage in projects to assist, befriend and inspire local residents.

The CJF has partnered with the American Jewish World Service to offer a humanitarian mission to Nicaragua. A group of YU students will volunteer in Boca de la Montana where they will build a library to promote sustainable development in the district of San Juan del Sur in southwestern Nicaragua. This experience includes opportunities for public speaking, writing, advocacy, and volunteer service. A humanitarian mission to Mexico, also with the American Jewish World Service, will send a group of YU students to assist on a variety of projects including farming and harvesting food in local and home gardens, building pools for aquaculture development, construction work and sustainable agriculture wok in the community nursery.

Finally, a bit closer to home, a delegation of students will be sent to attend the Limmud NY Conference at the Hudson Valley Resort in Kerhonksen, NY, from January 13-16. Limmud is an annual learning festival that spans the different Jewish denominations..

“The CJF winter missions enable students to travel all over the world learning, teaching and volunteering, while gaining exposure to new and exciting people. They explore a range of topics with public intellectuals and study with our roshei yeshiva, university professors and scholars from the regions we travel to,” Rabbi Brander shared. “Throughout these travels, our students engage in the most important journey of self-discovery. Upon their return to campus, we have observed a profound impact on the mission participants as well as the entire YU campus community. Independent research has shown that these missions have a transformative effect on the participants, enabling them to realize their potential as change agents for our Jewish community and society in general.”


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