As a freshman, I missed out on many highly-subsidized and diverse travel opportunities because I didn’t know what was out there during my hectic fall quarter. It wasn’t until I went to London with JAM over Spring Break that I realized I could combine my insatiable curiosity and passion for learning with my love for travel and Judaism. In this article, I will outline the international trips Jewish organizations at UCLA are offering this winter break and inform readers how to stay up to date on future opportunities.
Winter Break Options
Both Chabad and Hillel at UCLA run Birthright trips each winter and summer that are open to anyone who is Jewish and between the ages of 18 and 26. Over 750 Bruins have already gone to Israel on Hillel at UCLA Birthright trips. Hillel’s winter’s trip takes place December 18th-29th. To learn more about Bruin Birthright and how you can join Hillel this year, email [email protected]. Chabad’s trip is run through Mayonot and takes place from December 17th to December 29th. Check out their Facebook page for more information.
Additionally, Hillel presents the 2017 iEngage Hartman Student Seminar in Israel, a good option for those who are Birthright ineligible. The seminar will focus on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict through a lens of Jewish Values. The trip takes place December 27th-January 2nd. Participants are expected to attend learning sessions before and after the trip. Furthermore, students are expected to work towards funding their travel and half of the $250 program fee. Unfortunately, applications were due by Wednesday, November 1st at 5 p.m, but keep your eye out for future offerings.
JAM (Jewish Awareness Movement) is offering both single gender and co-ed trips this winter. Firstly, JAM is leading a mixed-gender cohort at the Olami Summit taking place this Winter Break in the UK and Spain. Secondly, JAM will once again be leading “A Journey Through Poland,” a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the camps through the eyes of a survivor. The trips runs from December 20th–December 27th and are highly subsidized; $999 includes everything from roundtrip airfare to meals, hotels and touring. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but spots are limited, so if you’re interested, check out the JAM at UCLA Facebook page for more information.
JAM will also be running an all-girls London Trip from December 31st-January 7th. The price is highly subsidized at $799 and includes roundtrip airfare, most meals, accommodations and touring. Scholarships are available. Contact Deborah Wosner on Facebook as soon as possible if interested in attending.
Additionally, JAM is running an all-girls Israel experience in Jerusalem from December 19th-January 7th. The program fee is $2,000, but generous scholarships are available. Accepted participants are expected to pay the cost of their own flight. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis – contact Bracha Zaret on Facebook for more information.
Moreover, Chabad on Campus also offers a Poland Trip through a group called Living Links. The trip takes place from December 18th-December 25th, but only spots on the waitlist remain. The $499 fee covers room, board, and all activities. Students are expected to fly out of New York together and are responsible for domestic travel to and from New York. Living Links also will also have a Holocaust memorial trip in Spring 2018.
Last but not least, Chabad at UCLA offers another winter Israel trip called “IsraeLinks,” which takes place from December 26th-January 7th. Fortunately, applications are still open – go to IsraeLinks.org or contact Rabbi Dovid Gurevich for more details. Those who completed Sinai Scholars are eligible to get their entire $499 program fee reimbursed instead of receiving a $350 stipend for Sinai Scholars. The program fee covers food, lodging and trips, minus occasional meal costs. Participants are responsible for their own travel to and from Israel.
All in all, UCLA’s diverse and expansive campus has a lot to offer. This winter break, the various organizations on campus will send two buses full of Bruins to Israel on Birthright, and there will be three separate Israel trips for the many Bruins who have already attended Birthright. Furthermore, both JAM and Chabad on Campus offer Poland trips.
Most importantly, both Chabad and JAM are still taking applications for many of their trips – apply or reach out to the right sources if you’re interested!
Despite the many subsidies offered by Jewish organizations at UCLA, travel isn’t cheap. Therefore, I’ve gathered a list of possible sources to help fund winter or spring break trips.
I find it unhelpful when people recommend crowdsourcing to fund travel. Therefore, I’ve gathered a list of accessible opportunities on campus. Firstly, Hillel at UCLA offers The Korach Grant for Immersive Travel and Study: students may apply for a Korach Grant of up to $250 to help subsidize travel to national conferences and programs associated with Jewish life, Israel and social justice. Secondly, students may sign up for a variety of Jewish Learning Fellowships at Hillel: perks include a $250 Stipend, snacks and a delicious dinner cooked by Hillel’s new chef, served at weekly meetings. Various tracks are available, and they meet for 90 minutes each week, usually from 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. One Shabbat dinner is required to receive the stipend. Contact Danielle Natelson for more information.
Next, we have the JAM Mix Seminars. These offer a $300 Stipend that can also be redeemed as a flight voucher for a JAM Summer or Winter Israel Trip. The Seminar requires participants to partake in one Shabbaton and eight weekly sessions, which take place on Tuesdays from 8-10 p.m. A catered dinner is served. Contact Rabbi Naftali Hanfling for more information.
At last, we have Sinai Scholars Society at Chabad: Chabad offers a $350 stipend for eight Weekly Sessions, meeting on Tuesdays this quarter. There are two attached Shabbatons and two field trips, including an optional Chabad on Campus Shabbaton Fall Quarter in New York City. There is also an optional Sinai Scholars Retreat in the summer, as well as a Sinai Scholars Alumni Academic Symposium taking place at the University of Chicago on April 15th, 2018. Contact Rabbi Dovid Gurevich for more information.
P.S. For students graduating fall quarter, Hillel International is running a Student Global Health trip to Guatemala this Winter Break. There are two trips: one between January 7th-14th and one between January 14th-21st. The trips will go to La Antigua and Guatemala; applications are due November 17th. Feel free to contact [email protected] if you have any questions!
Additionally, AJC’s ACCESS, Campus Affairs Department, and Asia Pacific Institute, in conjunction with the Foreign Ministry of Japan, invite you to apply for their trip to Japan, January 7-14, 2018. Find more details on the Hillel at UCLA website.