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First Ever Israel Experience For Teenagers From Interfaith Families

Wednesday, February 25, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Vanessa Lao
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New York, NY (February 25, 2015)

The Big Tent Judaism/Interfaith Israel 2015 Summer Teen Fellowship is the first ever Israel experience for teenagers from interfaith families. The fellowship will launch June 29, 2015 through July 12, 2015 and will focus on exploring Israel through a multi-cultural and multi-faith lens. The 12-day educational adventure is designed to support teenagers from interfaith families as they navigate their unique religious identities.

With only 50% of Jewish children attending traditional Jewish day school, education, camps or youth programs, there are numerous families who are in need of an experience completely designed for them. Traditional teen Israel travel programs do not cater to, nor do they speak uniquely to, teenagers from interfaith families. Other trips assume some level of knowledge about Judaism or Israel and are designed for participants with affirmed Jewish identities. “My experience from over fifteen years as an educator has shown that students of this age are indeed interested in, and often think about, their developing religion and spiritual identity. For a teenager who grows up with dual religious identities, and especially when they don’t fully understand either of those religious traditions, this experience can be very difficult. I founded Interfaith Israel to support the journey of those one million children and their families,” said Michael Dorfman, Founder & Executive Director, Interfaith Israel and Department Chair of Jewish Studies at the Rodeph Sholom School, a Reform Jewish Day School on the Upper West Side.

The Interfaith Israel Teen Fellowship will provide an immersive travel experience that allows teenagers to explore their complicated religious identities in an intellectually mature way and educates them about the multiple faith traditions; they will be better able to make decisions about their own religious beliefs and practices. “This initiative will also start a new, critical, peer-to-peer network for this growing group of teens; a place where they can find support and encouragement from peers going through similar experiences,” said Nathaniel Moldoff, Development Associate at Big Tent Judaism.

Some of the trip’s highlights include: visiting the holy sites of Judaism and Christianity, participate in an ethnic food tour, meet teens their own age from various faiths as well as hear from important community members and leaders. Significant scholarships are available to off-set the trip cost of $3,650. These scholarships are available for qualifying Fellows living in the Five Boroughs of New York City, Westchester County, and Long Island. Interfaith Israel is happy to work with Fellows from other communities to help find local funding and resources in order to participate. Applications from interested teens are now being accepted on a rolling basis. To learn more about the program and to submit an application, please visit

The Interfaith Israel Teen Fellowship is a joint project of Interfaith Israel, a N.J.-based not-for-profit start-up, and Big Tent Judaism, formerly known as the Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI). The Fellowship is a recipient of support from the New York Teen Initiative for Immersive Summer Experiences for Jewish Teens: Incubator for Emerging Experiences, a joint project of UJA-Federation of New York's Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal (COJIR) and The Jewish Education Project, with support from the Jim Joseph Foundation.

About Interfaith Israel
Interfaith Israel is a non-profit organization founded in 2014 that provides educational experiences in Israel.  Our vision is to have participants see the country as a land of many faiths and cultures; one that is filled with rich history, stories, and traditions.  Participants will meet and interact with members of various communities, including: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Baha’i, Bedouin, Druze, and others throughout the country. Additionally, Interfaith Israel examines the diverse citizenry of Israel and the challenges inherent within that diversity. Join the conversation at

About Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI)
Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI) is an independent, national, trans-denominational organization reaching out to unaffiliated and intermarried families, and helping the organized Jewish community to be more welcoming. Since 1987, JOI has created innovative programs, conducted groundbreaking research, and served as a national training institution for Jewish communal professionals and volunteer leaders. For more information please visit



Michael Dorfman
Founder and Executive Director
Interfaith Israel


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