Federation Announces Opening of Lemsky Fund Grant Applications for Teen & Young Adult Israel Programs

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“A part of me was now in Israel, and always will be. My summer in Israel will forever hold a special place in my heart,” said Memphis Jewish Federation Teen Israel Experience grant recipient Chloe Bullard upon her return from an amazing summer adventure. “I am truly thankful that I had these incredible experiences, and I will remember and look back at them for the rest of my life.”

With Memphis Jewish Federation’s announcement of the opening of the Teen Israel Experience Grant application period for the summer of 2023, experiences like Chloe’s are right around the corner for rising high school juniors and seniors and post-high school young adults in Jewish Memphis. Visit our website to learn more and begin the application process.

Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund, established through the generosity of the late Abe Lemsky, of blessed memory, enables Federation to strengthen the bonds between the Memphis Jewish community and Israel. Through Teen Israel Experience grants for high school students and Next Stop Israel grants for young adults, the Lemsky Endowment Fund connects young people to immersive Israel experiences. Data show that 100% of Teen Israel/Next Stop participants surveyed reported that Israel is more important to them now than it was before the trip. Interestingly, 93% of parents surveyed said that they themselves felt a greater desire to engage in Judaism because of their child’s trip.

“Before going on (my trip), I thought I had a strong Jewish identity, but not surprisingly, going to Israel made it even more clear,” said teen traveler Mandy Cassius. “It got stronger because of the people I was with like my new friends, my amazing advisors, and my trip family, which were my friends, advisors, and Israeli cousins.”

All rising high school juniors and seniors in the Memphis Jewish community are eligible for grants up to $3,000 to attend a recognized teen summer or semester program in Israel, while young adults age 32 and younger are eligible for up to $4,000 in funding to participate in a recognized gap year, summer, or semester program in Israel. Grant funding is counted cumulatively – a teen who accepts a $3,000 grant to participate in an Israel program during high school will be eligible for a maximum $1,000 grant for an Israel program at the post high school level. Funding may be applied to program cost only, not to airfare or other expenses. A limited number of additional needs-based programs are also available. Applicant and parent responsibilities are outlined in the grant applications.

During the summers of 2021 and 2022, Memphis Jewish Federation’s Lemsky Endowment Fund provided forty-three teens with grants to help offset the cost of Teen Israel Experience Summer programs in Israel. Nine young adults have participated in the Next Stop Israel from 2021-2022 and eight young adults are currently in Israel participating in programs from 2022-2023.

“The first time we went (to the Kotel), I was blindfolded and led to a balcony to take in the sight for the first time; it was truly breathtaking. After my whole life of wanting to be in Israel, wanting to be at the Kotel, I was finally there,” said Nadav Weiss. “When visiting the Kotel for the first time it is customary to rip your shirt and I still have the ripped shirt because looking at it makes me want to go back.”

Applications for both programs are accepted on a rolling basis. For more information, contact Jewish Community Partners Manager of Community Impact Lorraine Wolf at lwolf@jcpmemphis.org. Jewish Community Partners is the management organization of Memphis Jewish Federation and the Jewish Foundation of Memphis.

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