Planning ahead can mean giving your teenager the greatest possible gift – a trip to Israel with his or her peers. Realizing the importance of such a program, the Orange County Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) , in conjunction with many local congregations, is providing an added incentive for Orange County families. We caught up with David Lewis, CEO, and Sheri Gropper, director of operations, at the BJE, to find out what the program is, how it works and how to get started.
What is the Israel Savings Partnership? The Israel Savings Partnership is a $1,200 gift that helps to send your child to Israel. It grows your investment with matching funds to finance a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience for your child. This savings opportunity is brought to you through the collective efforts of Orange County/Long Beach congregations and the Orange County Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE).
Why was it created? There is nothing better than going to Israel during the teen years, and we want more kids to be able to go. Because this kind of trip is important to the development of Jewish identity and bonding, we hope to make it a more viable option for families by enabling them to plan ahead and get support from the community. Then they can work on the grandparents and create a Bar/Bat Mitzvah fund to defray the rest of the costs.
How does it work? You open an Israel Savings Partnership for your child with a minimum investment of a $300 deposit. The family can then make a minimum deposit of $300 per calendar year to the child’s savings account. Each calendar year that you make your minimum contribution, your participating synagogue will also contribute $75 toward and Israel Savings Partnership in your child’s name. Each year that you make your minmum contribution, the BJE will add $150 toward an Israel Savings Partnership fund in your child’s name. Your fund is eligible for BJE contributions up to a maximum of eight years (3rd through 10th grade), a total of $1,200.
Who can enroll in the program? All Jewish students in 3rd through 10th grades who live in the greater Orange County/Long Beach area can enroll in the program. Even if the student’s synagogue is not participating, the student will receive the BJE contribution. There can be three accounts per student in the student’s name with all funds coming through the BJE.
Which congregations are participating in the program? Thus far, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Congregation Shir Ha Ma-a’lot, Temple Bat Yahm, Temple Beth El, Temple Beth Sholom (Santa Ana) and University Synagogue have confirmed their participation. Others may join the program, and students from non-participating congregations can still get funds from the BJE.
What kinds of trips are eligible for participation? Eligible trips must occur between the conclusion of a student’s 9th grade year through the summer past his or her 12th grade year. The Israel Savings Partnership is designed to fund Israel programs that emphasize Jewish learning or living experiences for a period of at least 3 weeks in Israel with a peer group of high school students. To receive matching funds from a congregation, the student must participate on an Israel trip that meets the above criteria and is approved by the congregational professional leadership. To receive matching funds from the Orange County BJE, the student must participate in TIES, the Orange County Community Israel Summer Trip. Congregational trips or trips with parents are not eligible.
What are the short- and long-term goals? We would like to see 84 students signed up the first year and be able to run the TIES trip every year. Eventually, we want to see a large number of Orange County high school students being able to go to Israel.
How does one get started? Fill out a participation agreement and send it to The Bureau of Jewish Education, 1 Federation Way, Suite 205, Irvine, CA 92603 with a check for $300 made out to Opus Bank. This will establish an Israel Savings Partnership in a child’s name.
How does one learn more? For more information, contact Sheri Gropper, director of operations, (949) 435-3450 x329, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Starting its historic 36th year, the BJE will honor Aviva Forster, longtime Dinner with a Scholar chairperson, for her many years of service, at its second annual Sunday with a Scholar event “Groucho,” on Sunday, August 25. Forster, who was a teacher for 33 years, began as an elementary school teacher, made the transition to middle school, became the bilingual coordinator for the OC Department of Education, then a consultant for the California State Department of Education and ended up teaching in the education department at UCI and Cal State Fullerton.
Forster received five very competitive federal grants that focused on developing effective methods for teaching students who were English language learners and presented the grant findings at numerous national and international conferences. Over the years, she trained thousands of teachers, almost always beginning the session with a Hebrew lesson to demonstrate the dynamics of language acquisition.
Forster’s accolades have included the Yachad Award from the JCC, the Woman of the Year Award from Temple Bat Yahm Sisterhood and the Heritage Pointe Gala Honoree, together with her husband, Fred. Currently, she serves on the Caring Committee for Temple Bat Yahm, coordinating committee for Women’s Health Forum, Women’s Philanthropy board, board of Atid Group of Hadassah and board of Newport Irvine Chapter of Heritage Pointe
In addition to chairing Dinner with a Scholar Board, Forster’s previous activities in the Jewish community include being co-president of the Newport-Irvine Chapter of Heritage Pointe, chair of the Heritage Pointe Annual Gala three times, chair of One Book: Jewish Orange County Reads, co-chair of JCC’s Jewish Festival of Books, co-chair of JCC’s Kallah Program, board of director the JCC and board of directors of the Community Scholar Program. She also served as president of the Docent Council of the Orange County Museum of Art and on the board of dDirectors of Women in Leadership.
For more information, contact Heather Zemmol at the Bureau at email@example.com or (949) 435-3450.