February 22, 2024

Ida Crown Jewish Academy (ICJA), a renowned Jewish high school near Chicago, has announced its plan to send it’s entire senior class to Israel for a month-long volunteering mission. This initiative, led by ICJA Dean Rabbi Dr. Leonard Matanky, is aimed at supporting Israel during its current crisis.

In a conversation with The Jerusalem Post, Matanky expressed his pride in the students’ initiative, recounting how the idea was birthed following a Yom Kippur address. He shared, “Our students were inspired by the school’s history of support during the Yom Kippur War and expressed a strong desire to contribute to Israel in these challenging times.” The school community quickly rallied to make this trip possible, raising necessary funds within days. Most of the senior class volunteered for the trip, set to depart on December 17, 2023. “This might be the most powerful educational experience we can offer,” Matanky said, emphasizing the significance of the mission. Senior Jordana Zwelling voiced her enthusiasm, “I’m so proud that our school is sending us to Israel. I only wish other yeshiva high schools could join us in this effort.”

What will they be doing during their month-long volunteer trip in Israel?

In Israel, the students will engage in various volunteer activities, including working on farms, providing support to families of soldiers, assisting in hospitals, and preparing care packages for the military. These efforts come as a response to the recent turmoil and the October 7 Hamas massacre, after which the Ida Crown student body actively participated in fundraising, lobbying, and demonstrating in support of Israel. The seniors’ involvement extends beyond this trip, as evidenced by their participation in the March for Israel in Washington, DC, and advocating for pro-Israel legislation in Chicago, even in the face of antisemitic opposition. Senior Reena Neiger summed up the sentiment, “It’s our time to help our people in need. We need to be there for them.” Matanky concluded with a wish, “I hope every yeshiva high school in North America gets inspired to undertake similar missions.”