The journey begins either in the north or the south of Israel, continues through the coastal plain, and culminates in an ascent to Jerusalem. The daily geographic itinerary corresponds to a purposeful thematic progression in the six circles of identity. Starting with the focus on the individual, participants look inward, each day building on and questioning the make-up of their identity. Who am I? Who is this group of people that I interact with each day? They gradually shift the focus outward, looking at the big picture. Are they part of something bigger? What are their thoughts about Community, Country, and the Jewish People?
The program’s proven results have been documented and published by Professor Gad Yair, head of the NCJW Research Center for Innovation in Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who writes, “The unique components of the I BELONG ISRAEL journey and their integration create powerful experiences that influence, and even change, participants’ perception of identity as well as preconceived ideas relating to their personal and social spheres.” The study also points to the program’s significant impact on dialogue and commitment to Israel, as well as inclusion and tolerance. One teacher who was interviewed states, “I BELONG ISRAEL is like 20,000 hours in the classroom – a one-of-a kind, critical, experience.”
Since its founding, more than 270,000 Israeli and Diaspora youth have embarked on this life-altering program. Under the leadership of I BELONG ISRAEL president Eliezer Shkedy, a former commander in the Israel Air Force, the organization aims to reach more individuals and new audiences.
I BELONG ISRAEL for Diaspora youth – Itinerary at a Glance
Day 1: The Individual – Personal goals and aspirations
Day 2: The Group – Cooperation and communication skills, group interaction
Day 3: The Community – Volunteer activities in underprivileged areas, the power of giving
Day 4: The Land of Israel – Our story begins long before 1948
Day 5: The State of Israel – Connection and commitment to the State of Israel
Day 6: Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish People
Each of the six days of the Journey has its own theme related to the students’ concentric circles of identity. These are developed through site visits, textual study and informal “round-robin” discussions geared to encourage the student to bring his/her self-understanding and successive layers of identity into sharper focus, as follows:
Day 1: The Individual – Personal goals and aspirations:
Intropection, discovering personal strengths and weaknesses, examining one’s ability to face challenges in an unfamiliar environment. The students undergo this experience in peripheral areas (Machtesh Ramon, Judean Desert, Meron Hills, Carmel) during a two-day hike that includes wilderness camping. Participants are encouraged to formulate meaningful answers to the question: “Who am I really, as an individual?”
Day 2: The Group – Cooperation and communication skills, group interaction:
Examining the meaning of the group for the student and his/her unique place in it. The students participate in group challenges to clarify the relationship between the individual and the collective, as well as leadership, collaboration and communication skills.
Day 3: The Community – Volunteer activities in underprivileged areas, the power of giving:
An encounter with the social mosaic of Israel’s geographical and economic periphery. The students become acquainted with the community through a social navigation assignment, and meet with local leaders. The highlight is a volunteer assignment in a community social welfare project.
Day 4: The Land of Israel – Our story begins long before 1948:
Understanding the significance of the land of Israel for the Jewish Zionist mentality and the connection between the “People” and the “Land.” This juncture of the journey brings the group to the Judean hills and plains, visiting biblical locations, reliving biblical narratives, and paying homage to ancient historical sites and landmarks from the early beginnings of Zionism to the establishment of the State.
Day 5: The State of Israel – Connection and commitment to the State of Israel:
Examining the Zionist ideal and its realization, and exploring the students’ sense of responsibility towards the State of Israel. At this point the students arrive in Jerusalem to participate in educational tours of Yad Vashem and Mt. Herzl.
Day 6: Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish People.
I BELONG ISRAEL participants visit the Western Wall for Friday evening prayers. This marks the beginning of a special Shabbat devoted to understanding Jewish identity and how it connects with all the concentric circles of their identity.
This is a life-changing journey into powerful self-knowledge, connecting the participants to the deepest parts of themselves and each other, to their various layers of identity, to their deep roots in the People and Land of Israel, and to their ultimate role as responsible, proud members of the global Jewish people.
For further details please contact Orly Rozenbaum: 9722-588-7893 or firstname.lastname@example.org