Even years after their Y2i (Youth 2 Israel) experience, a large portion of alumni credit part of their current involvement with Jewish life and Israel to their time on the program.
That’s one of the findings of a longitudinal study, conducted by Rosov Consulting, into the program’s impact on individual participants.
The study involved two parallel inquiries – one focused on program alumni, specifically participants in Y2i’s 2015 and 2016 cohorts, while a second looked at Y2i’s short-term impact.
“The number of kids who return to return to Israel after their year 10 trip was much higher than what we thought, which is obviously a big positive,” Y2i chair Jeremy Dunkel told The AJN.
“We hoped that was the case, but that it has proven to be the case is great. For the alumni all these years later to still be referring back to Y2i as having a huge impact on their Jewish or their Israeli identity is encouraging.”
Since its pilot year in 2014, Y2i has provided more than 2000 students from NSW, the ACT and Queensland with a $5000 discretionary subsidy toward the cost of participating in a year 10 Israel program. Y2i’s reach has been especially notable: in 2022, 92 per cent of students in Jewish schools and 36 per cent of Jewish students in non-Jewish schools – a total of 61 per cent of all eligible young Jews – participated in a five-week or longer year 10 Israel program.
Three quarters of alumni surveyed report that some of their closest friends are people they grew closer with on Y2i, while nearly 90 per cent of alumni who feel a strong sense of connection and responsibility to Israel credit Y2i with strengthening those sentiments.
Another interesting finding was that more than half of alumni feel willing and equipped to educate others about Israel and give others a sense of what Israel is like, as a result of their Y2i experience.
The study was prompted by this year’s Continuity Appeal to show past and potential donors just how worthwhile the program is and to find ways of improving it.
“A major thing still to do is to make sure that the kids, when they return, are properly catered for in the community,” Dunkel said.
“If they’re seeking connection, whether it’s social connection or communal connection, that those pathways are available to them. I think we’re doing a much better job, but we can always do better on that front.”