Going global

 With $1m pilot, Mosaic United expands teen trips outside North America

Diaspora Ministry offers matching funds to help bring high schoolers from around the world to Israel

Mosaic United will expand its operations this summer, bringing hundreds of teens from around the world to Israel, as part of a pilot program, the organization told eJewishPhilanthropy this week.

Until now, Mosaic United – working with RootOne – has primarily focused on bringing North American teenagers to Israel, subsidizing trips for thousands of them each year.

Beginning this summer, the organization will do the same for teenagers from the rest of the world, offering vouchers worth between $3,000 and $6,000 to roughly 300 teenagers from at least 10 countries, Alana Ebin, director of Mosaic United’s Teen Travel Pillar, told eJP.

Ebin stressed that this does not represent a pivot by Mosaic United, but rather that it brings the organization’s operations in line with its stated mission.

“The thought behind expanding this to communities outside of North America was always there. Our mandate is all of Diaspora Jewry. We want them to embrace and deepen their Jewish experiences as well,” she said.

This summer’s pilot program will be done in partnership with the JCC Association of North America and CTeen, Chabad’s teen network. Mosaic is also in talks with NCSY Argentina, though that has yet to be finalized, Ebin said.

It is being run through a fund-matching program, with the Israeli government allocating $1 million toward the initiative. “Mosaic United, through the Diaspora [Affairs] Ministry is providing 50% and the other side is bringing their 50%,” Ebin said.

In order to be eligible for the vouchers, the trips must last at least three weeks, include “formative pre- and post-trip experiences” and include a “meaningful multi-day mifgash [meeting] with Israeli teens,” Ebin said. Staff members must also undergo a 10-hour training session to prepare them to lead the trips, she said.

All participants will receive a $3,000 voucher – the same as North American recipients – but with the possibility of receiving up to $3,000 more, based on need and other circumstances.

“Some teens are going on these trips for nothing, others are going for about half the cost,” Ebin said.

The trips will run from July to August. They will include participants from South America, Africa and Europe, including displaced Ukrainian refugees, according to a spokesperson for Mosaic United.

Ebin said the decision to work with JCCA and CTeen this year was based on the fact that they had existing “infrastructure” for planning these kinds of trips.

“We wanted to establish this with people who had the desire and the ability,” Ebin said.

This year, Mosaic United is working directly with JCCA and CTeen on the trips, though she said in the future it may operate more behind the scenes as more of an umbrella organization as it does for North American trips. 

“This year is a proof of concept. We are taking this as a model summer and seeing what works and what doesn’t,” she said.

Next year, the organization plans to triple the number of non-American participants.

“It’s unclear how it will go next year in terms of partnerships,” Ebin continued. “All options are on the table. We could continue working with existing partners or embrace more of an umbrella model. Whichever will get us to our goal quickest and enable us to bring as many Jewish teens as possible, that’s what we’re going with.”