Mosaic United expands vouchers for Israel trips for teens from outside the U.S.

Organization looks to offer subsidized trips to 1,200 participants this year with $2.4 million in government funds, which must be matched by partnering groups

The Israeli government-backed Mosaic United will nearly quadruple the number of teenagers from outside the U.S. it will help bring to Israel this summer, following a pilot program last year, the organization told eJewishPhilanthropy.

Last year, Mosaic United launched its pilot program, offering vouchers worth between $3,000 and $6,000 to subsidize extended trips to Israel to some 350 teenagers from 17 countries last summer, according to Alana Ebin, director of Mosaic United’s Teen Travel Pillar. This program is specifically geared toward teens from outside the U.S.; Mosaic United is continuing its existing partnership with RootOne to help subsidize trips for U.S. teens.

The program, which was initially intended to provide vouchers to 300 teens, was supposed to be expanded significantly last year — during the pilot stage — due to high demand. Another 550 teens from the Southern Hemisphere were meant to come to Israel this winter through the subsidy program, but the trips were canceled after Oct. 7, Ebin said.

The expanded program is meant to provide vouchers to 1,200 teens.

Last year, Mosaic United partnered with five groups that were organizing Israel trips: BBYO International, Chabad’s Cteen, NCSY Argentina, HaShomer HaTzair and the JCC Association of North America/Maccabi World Union.

Ebin said the organizations that had planned to host trips this winter have already expressed interest in bringing them next winter. The other organizations that participated in the pilot have all said they wish to continue as well, she said, stressing that Mosaic United is looking for additional partners. The organization is launching a request-for-proposal process now.

Ebin said that the organization understood that after the Oct. 7 attacks and as anti-Zionism and antisemitism are rising, Jews in general and Jewish teens in particular are reconsidering their connection to the Jewish people, and Mosaic United wanted to be a part of that process.

“I think that people are searching for community and connection,” Ebin said. “We would be remiss if we weren’t part of that exploration.”

The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs decided to expand the program significantly, more than doubling its initial funding, aftering deeming last year’s trial a success and seeing renewed importance in fostering a deeper connection between Jewish teens in the Diaspora with Israel in light of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and rising antisemitism around the globe, Ebin said.

The new expanded program will have a $4.8 million budget, with half of it coming from Mosaic United’s government funding and the other half being provided by the partner organizations that are leading the trips. The standard $3,000 voucher will go toward trips lasting at least three weeks. Shorter trips are also eligible for the program, but the vouchers will be for smaller amounts based on their length, Ebin said.

Ebin said Mosaic United’s fund-matching approach is meant to give the participating organizations a sense of “ownership” over the program, that they are partners, not recipients.

Their half of the budget can come either from third-party donations that the organizations solicit or from the organization’s own budget, though Ebin said Mosaic United prefers the former.