Israel GO initiative relaunched
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ZFA & UIA gap year program

Israel GO initiative relaunched

"A complete game changer for the Israel programs landscape".

Bnei Akiva gap year program Limmud.
Bnei Akiva gap year program Limmud.

More young Jewish adults will be able to participate in an Israel program with the official relaunch of the Zionist Federation of Australia’s (ZFA’s) Israel GO initiative.

The two-year pilot program in partnership with UIA-Keren Hayesod and private philanthropists will provide financial support for young adults participating in gap year programs in 2022 and 2023.

ZFA president Jeremy Leibler said the program’s launch last year was “a complete game changer for the Israel programs landscape”.

“With the financial challenges that the pandemic created, it was important for us to lead with a solution,” he said.

“We know from our data that participation in Israel programs increases the connection to and relationship with Israel, and we want to continue to be able to nurture this.”

This year, eligible applicants participating in a four-to-six-month program will receive a grant of up to $3000; those joining programs of six to 10 months will receive up to $4500; and those joining programs of over 10 months will receive up to $6500.

The Israel GO support is additional to any other funding support that participants receive, including the means-tested Masa Israel Journey subsidy of up to $US6500. As in 2022, Israel GO grants are provided by the ZFA to eligible applicants on an opt-in basis.

Since 2021, the number of gap year participants has increased by almost 300 per cent, a significant jump which indicates the program’s success.

UIA Australia president Esther Frenkiel said the results of the program “have been nothing short of remarkable”.

“UIA Australia is exceptionally proud to be a key partner in Israel GO … We are so grateful to the ZFA for their leadership through this groundbreaking concept,” she said.

“The idea has proven its value, and as the primary funding bridge between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora, UIA Australia is committed to ensuring Israel GO has the resources to ensure no young adult is denied this exceptional experience for financial reasons.”

The ZFA spoke to several families around the time of the pilot launch in 2021, including the Berkovits family from Melbourne, whose twin daughters are currently on Bnei Akiva’s MTA gap year program.

“The impact of receiving the [Israel GO] grant has assisted in easing the financial strain that would have otherwise been really difficult to send both our girls,” their mother Shoshana Berkovits said.

“They are now halfway through the year and having the most incredible experience of living, learning and touring Israel.”

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