This year, Aish UK has coordinated a series of immersive trips to Israel for singles and students. This summer has already seen two campus students’ cohorts experiencing two-week journeys filled with volunteering, cultural activities, and powerful encounters with October 7th Survivors and soldiers as well as Holocaust Survivors. A third group is set to depart later in July, promising to be yet another incredible experience. A few spaces remain.


Although the itineraries for each trip vary, they all include a mix of experiences unique to Israel as well as volunteering opportunities making a tangible difference to the people of Israel. The first trip kicked off with a scooter tour of Jerusalem, offering students an exciting and alternative way to explore the City. This was followed by a poignant session with Holocaust survivor Yosef Lewkowitz, whose tale of survival inspired the students and provided greater context for the need for the State of Israel.


Volunteering is at the heart of each trip, with students dedicating their time to various causes. In Tel Aviv, they worked at a bike repair shop, where they dismantled old bicycles to salvage parts for new ones, supporting a non-profit organisation aimed at promoting cycling as a healthy, eco-friendly transportation alternative. This experience was not just about fixing the bikes for those who need them to travel, but also about understanding the broader impact of their work on the community’s well-being.


The groups each visited Hostage Square in Tel Aviv, a significant site commemorating those taken hostage on October 7th, those who were killed and resilience of those affected by terrorism. The students engaged deeply with the stories of the hostages and the ongoing struggles faced by many Israelis.


Another highlight was volunteering on a farm where students helped pack produce for distribution to local shops. This task took on deeper significance as they learned that many agricultural workers had either left to go back to their home country or many who were called up to serve in the army, leaving a gap that needed to be filled. The farm also served as a therapy center, with horses providing comfort and healing to those affected by the war.


In Jerusalem, the students had the profound experience of visiting the Kotel. They also volunteered at Yad Sarah, an incredible chesed organisation that provides medical equipment, social services and many other services to those in need. Here, they sorted and repaired medical devices, contributing to the essential support system for the community.


The group’s volunteering extended to cooking and delivering meals for displaced families and children, showcasing their empathy and desire to make a tangible difference. One of the most moving moments of the trip was a barbecue they hosted for reserve soldiers bringing full circle their week of giving and connecting.


Adina Strom, who accompanied the first group, shared her reflections on the trip, emphasising the profound impact it had on both the students and the communities they served. “We spent a week in Israel volunteering in various different areas, touching on diverse aspects of society,” she recounted. “What was fascinating for the students was to see how much we were needed. Initially, we wondered if our presence would genuinely make a difference, but every single place we went, we heard incredible stories of how our help was invaluable. Whether it was assisting on a farm where the farmer’s husband was fighting in Gaza, or supporting a bike repair shop that promotes healthier lifestyles, our contributions were deeply appreciated.”


Strom highlighted the emotional connections formed with the people they met, noting the gratitude expressed by those they helped. “The overriding response from everyone was, ‘Thank you for coming and supporting us, both physically with your volunteering, but also for the moral support it gives to know that you’ve come from outside of Israel to share and care for us.’ This was incredibly powerful for the students to hear and experience.”


The itinerary also included visits to locations that provided a stark contrast between the challenges and the resilience of Israeli society. The students toured areas affected by conflict, such as Sderot and Nova, witnessing the remnants of violence and hearing stories of survival and hope. These experiences offered a modern-day parallel to the Poland trips that focus on the Holocaust, allowing students to connect deeply with the ongoing narrative of the Jewish people.


One particularly poignant moment occurred in Hostage Square, where the group met an individual who had been at Nachal Oz on October 7th, sharing her harrowing experience. They also visited Takuma, observing the aftermath of conflict and the community’s efforts to rebuild and move forward.


The trip culminated in a Shabbat celebration in Jerusalem, where the group enjoyed a meal on a rooftop overlooking the Kotel. They heard stories of resilience and bravery, such as the tale of Yonatan, named in memory of Yoni Netanyahu, who perished during the Entebbe rescue mission. This story was brought to life even more vividly when, during their Havdalah ceremony, they learned of a successful hostage rescue operation that had just taken place, which was incredible.


The students also participated in the Yom Yerushalayim parade, a day marking the reunification of Jerusalem. The parade, filled with dancing and celebration, was a highlight for the group, embodying the joy and pride of the Jewish people in their capital city.


As the trip drew to a close, the students gathered for a final banquet to share their experiences and reflections. They spoke of the deep connections they had made, the lessons learned, and their renewed commitment to being active participants in the Jewish story.


The Aish UK Israel trips have proven to be more than just a summer adventure; they are a journey of personal growth, social and cultural connection, and community service. As the students prepare to pass the baton to the next group, set to leave in July, they do so with the knowledge that they are part of a larger narrative of resilience, unity, and hope.


These trips are a testament to the power of volunteering, the importance of connecting with one’s heritage, and the impact of stepping out of one’s comfort zone to make a difference in the world. As Strom aptly put it, “We are the authors of the next chapter of Jewish history, and it’s up to us to add our own chapters to Our Story.”