My Teen Volunteer in Israel Mission

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The Decision to Go to Israel

In January of 2024, a mission trip of my synagogue, TBJ, returned from Israel and shared their remarkable stories of their travels to the congregation at Shabbat. After hearing the profound impact this trip had on my fellow congregants, I immediately went home and started to research missions in Israel for teens, which is when I stumbled upon the Jewish National Fund-USA teen mission. 

I brought the mission trip to my parents’ attention, and although at first there was definitely hesitation on their behalf, they ultimately made the decision to let me go. As the weeks went on anticipating the trip, I thought about the new people I would meet, going to Israel for the first time, and understanding the impact and importance of being there now, since October 7th. So, when the time came, I boarded my El Al flight and headed to Ben Gurion Airport.  

Stepping off the flight was surreal. As I walked through the airport, I was greeted with the dark realities of life in Israel since October 7th, as posters of the hostages lined the walls. However, unlike in America, these posters were not torn down or vandalized, instead they were honored with prayers and other well wishes. I met with the group and we headed to the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI) campus to begin our trip. 

A Week Volunteering in Israel 

During our week spent in Israel, we engaged in a multitude of service projects, as well as had the exceptional opportunity to be immersed in Israeli culture. On the first day of our trip, we prepared meals for soldiers, learned about service efforts made by Israelis since the war, and enjoyed dinner at a home of a family in the Druze community. We spoke with the Druze people and learned about their culture and experience since October 7th. They shared with us the importance of hospitality, and explained as soon as one sits down to have bread and salt with another, they can truly connect.

On the following day, we headed to Southern Israel, where we spent time at a community for people with special needs, called ADI Negev, and heard the tragic stories of the ways in which the people of the community were impacted and experienced loss on October 7th. They shared to us that Hamas trucks had simply drove past ADI Negev, which was understaffed with security on October 7th due to the holiday and Shabbat, a complete miracle.

That night we went to the Nova Music Festival site, where we visited the memorials of those massacred that night. As we drove, we passed rows of fields that I had once seen attendees of the festival running on in the news; now the fields had grown, no longer deserted, and I made the profound connection that October 7th happened so recently, and the brutality of the War still waged on. At the Nova sight, we sang Hatikvah as a group, and surrounding visitors joined in, a true moment of connection. 

Teen Volunteer in Israel March 2024


The following days of the trip consisted of agricultural projects on Bedouin farms, as well as visits to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In Tel Aviv, we had an opportunity to spend time in Hostages Square, an area in Tel Aviv dedicated to bringing home all of the hostages and supporting the families whose loved ones are held captive in Gaza. In Hostages Square, we went through a simulation of the tunnels in Gaza, met with family members and friends of those in hostage, and learned about personal stories of October 7th. That night, we returned to the Muss campus to bring in Shabbat. 

Why I Went to Israel Now

Many were surprised that I travelled to Israel alone during my Spring Break, yet my decision to go came with very little hesitation. I found that on social media, the news of the war made me feel detached from Israel and helping was out of my control, and going brought me great comfort that I could help and connect with people in Israel. I learned so much from the Israelis I met, hearing the polarity and tensions of regular life waging on and the war’s occurrence in their everyday lives. The people in Israel still laugh, dance, and sing, yet there is a lingering presence of the war in each and every moment. They wanted to hear from us, about why we came and of the raging antisemitism in America. I experienced immense connections with the land of Israel and the people, making it so difficult to leave. 

Going to Israel after October 7th was one of the best experiences that I could have ever made, and I do not have any regrets. I am so blessed to have had a safe return from my meaningful trip, and I pray for a safe return of all of the hostages and that there can be peace again in Israel.

Am Yisrael Chai. Bring them all home NOW!


If you are interested in joining a Teen Volunteer in Israel Mission this summer, check out our available mission dates here!


Teen Volunteer Mission Participant


Louisa Gordon is a current high school student from Short Hills, New Jersey.