Dec 21, 2006 — Yeshiva University undergraduates are using their semester break to help others and have an impact on the world.

The Center for the Jewish Future is organizing a humanitarian mission to Central America in conjunction with the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) as part of the 2007 AJWS Alternative Breaks Program. A group of 15 students will spend from Jan. 7-14, with the Fundación Nueva Esperanza (FNE) (New Hope Foundation) based in Rabinal, Guatemala. FNE provides poor Maya Achi youth the opportunity to receive an affordable, high-quality education. The YU undergraduates will work on a variety of construction and maintenance projects around FNE’s school facilities and spend several hours each day exploring Jewish texts related to social justice.

The Yeshiva University Public Action Committee (YUPAC) will send a student lobby mission to Washington, D.C. on Feb. 6 in coordination with the Israel Club and Political Science Society of YU. The students will lobby congressional representatives on various pieces of legislation affecting the US-Israel relationship, including stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions, putting an end to the terrorist activities of Hamas and Hezbollah, and foreign aid to Israel.

“Students will have the opportunity to walk the halls of power in this country and make a tangible difference for Israel,” said Avi Posnick, president of YUPAC. “We hope that they will pass on the knowledge and skills that they have learned to their fellow students and communities.” The trip will also be sponsored by the undergraduate student councils of Yeshiva University.

For the first time, the CJF will run a learning program in diverse communities across the United States. Jewish Life Coast to Coast will send 20 students to cities along the East Coast from Jan 2-14. Students will stay in community members’ homes; run educational programs at yeshivot and day-schools; meet with rabbis, community leaders and youth; and participate in kollel-style learning.

The first stop will be Baltimore, MD, where the undergraduates will run a program at Yeshivat Rambam. In Charleston and New Orleans, their activities will include a tour of the destruction from Hurricane Katrina and volunteering opportunities. Finally, the students will headd to communities in Miami, Boca Raton, and Boynton Beach in Florida. The experience is geared to give students a close-up look at different communities and what makes them successful, said trip coordinator Aliza Abrams.

A group of 22 students, mostly from Yeshiva University, will participate in a Habitat for Humanity mission to the state of Georgia sponsored by the Jewish youth group Bnei Akiva. From Jan. 7-14, students will help build homes in Eastman, GA, and spent a Shabbat with the Atlanta community. David Wermuth, a senior at Yeshiva College, and Rachel Weisel, a senior at Stern College, coordinated the trip.

As part of its Winter Break in Israel, the Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY) and the Torah Activities Council (TAC) will hold six events for students from Jan. 3-10. Learning opportunities include shiurim (classes) with Rabbi Joshua Fass of Nefesh B’Nefesh and with Rabbi Kenneth Brander at the site opposite Kodesh Kodashim in the Kotel tunnel. The group will tour the area of Gush Etzion, stopping at Rachel’s Tomb and the towns of Tekoa and Chevron. They will also organize a blood donation program and participate in other chesed (social action) activities with One Family Fund.