While many of their peers are spending spring break in the sun, some members of GW’s Jewish community will go to Israel for an alternative spring break to repair schools and buildings falling into disrepair.
Unlike other GW alternative break programs, the Jewish National Fund, not GW, organizes the trip to Israel. Because funding comes from private donors, the trip is more selective, open only to Jewish students that are involved with Greek-letter life on campus.
The donors “wanted to connect young Jews with Israel,” Alex Shapero, the Greek-letter outreach associate for the Israel on Campus Coalition said.
The trip is open to students who have already traveled to Israel on Birthright, a program that offers free trips to Israel for Jewish young adults, but students who participate in the spring break trip will no longer be eligible for Birthright.
Birthright sends participants to Israel’s major historical and religious sites, but the spring break trip will involve less sightseeing and more volunteering.
“I am most looking forward to seeing a different side of Israel,” Daniel Razulis, a participant in the spring 2010 trip who has already been on Birthright.
With Birthright, he said, “you are never in one place for very long. You are always moving around in order to see all the important sites Israel has to offer.”
The Jewish National Fund is also limiting the participants for this trip to members of the Greek-letter life community. Daniel Razulis, the Greek outreach intern for Israel on Campus Coalition, said JNF wanted only Greek-letter life students because they believe it will create a close-knit group.
The group will be in Israel less than a week, volunteering at different sites each day. Volunteers will help provide food for the needy, assist the elderly, tutor and play with children and help repair bomb shelters, schools, and community centers, among other projects.
The Jewish National Fund has raised enough money for 180 students from across the country to take part in the March program. A complete list of GW participants is not yet available, but the University sent two representatives on a similar trip last winter.
“I am excited to be able to give back to the land and people of Israel,” Razulis said. “Birthright was such an amazing experience and I want to show my gratitude for having had the opportunity to go on the trip, and this will be a way to do that.”