Yeshiva University announced Wednesday that 12 undergraduate fellows from the University’s QUEST student leadership program will arrive in Israel on January 4 to spend a week constructing permanent homes, schools and community centers for former Gush Katif residents who are rebuilding their lives in the desert community of Halutza.
These students also raised $20,000 during the fall semester to support the construction of the Halutza project.
The QUEST program also marks the first-ever partnership between Yeshiva University and the Jewish National Fund (JNF). After months of training and fundraising, the JNF-sponsored mission presents the QUEST fellows with an opportunity to fine-tune their leadership skills and gain a deeper understanding of their cause.
“We challenged the QUEST leadership fellows to set goals for themselves and develop plans to achieve them. Now that they have raised the funds they need for the project, they are primed for the next phase of the leadership training: experiencing the cause they are supporting,” said Marc Spear, leadership training director for YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF).
“Our hope is that this mission will not only help these students learn about this specific cause and how they can contribute to it, but that it will inspire them to share their passion for Jewish communal causes with their peers.”
Over the last year, QUEST has refocused its programming to helping undergraduate students improve their leadership skills and take an active role in the Jewish communal landscape. During the first semester of programming, ‘QUEST I’ students practice skills such as public speaking, time management and team building, while second semester ‘QUEST II’ fellows utilize what they have learned to raise funds for a specific JNF project while honing their leadership, event planning, fundraising and solicitation skills.
“Our partnership with Yeshiva University has presented a unique opportunity to work with an exceptional group of students who are already committed to becoming leaders in the Jewish community,” said Rebecca Kahn, JNF Campus Programs Manager. “It has also connected the Orthodox community to JNF’s work in Israel, so it has been very exciting.”
During the Israel mission, the QUEST fellows will visit the beneficiaries of their fundraising efforts in Halutza as well as meet with mayors and the heads of charitable organizations to discuss leadership challenges and the methods used to address those challenges.
In addition to the QUEST mission, the CJF will be running four other winter missions concurrently, including two innovative Israel programs: an experiential education program called ‘Shabbat 2010’ that will explore the roots of Shabbat observance and expose students to the contemporary effects of Shabbat on Israeli Society and the Jewish community at large, and "Operation Healthcare", a service learning program that will examine the healthcare systems of the United States and Israel, and will tackle the question of whether healthcare is a personal, communal, or governmental responsibility.