Joyce Zeff Israel Study Tour—Now and Then

Jun 20, 2022

It’s a trip of a lifetime, making memories that last forever

During the summer of 2022, 72 Colorado teens immersed themselves in the life, history, culture, and religious experiences of Israel for five weeks on the Joyce Zeff Israel Study Tour (IST), one of the last remaining community-based Israel trips in the country.

“It was an honor to be a part of this amazing group of teens and staff this summer,” says Jillian Feiger, Director of Jewish Student Connection and IST. “The other staffers and I witnessed the true power that the Israel Study Tour wields when it comes to enhancing young people’s understanding of and connection to their own Jewish identity. I could not be more grateful to the JEWISHcolorado team for delivering the tools that have kept this annual adventure going strong. Cheers to 50 more years of IST!”

Fifty years!

Yes, IST celebrated 50 years on Sunday, May 1, 2022. Dozens of ISTers gathered at Infinity Park Event Center to reminisce, reconnect, and celebrate 50 years of this unique and beloved journey to their birthright country. Alumni from the trip throughout the years recounted their memories in a video presentation, and we share some of their thoughts here.

From the very first trip, all of these kids from Denver, Colorado, came back and were completely changed and told their parents and their friends about this whole experience. I think everybody got on board because they saw the value of having this Israel trip and having these kids come back wanting to be a part of our communal Jewish world.”

Debra Weinstein, 1971, the first IST trip

“I really felt so incredibly close to all the other kids on the trip. Going into the trip we were friendly, but by the time we left, it really felt like family. That same thing goes for the Israelis that we met. They were just strangers to me, and I don’t think that they will ever be just strangers again.”

Jake Hodas, 2021

“I went on IST in 1978 after my sophomore year. It brings home the history of our people and helped us understand the connection to the state of Israel and why that part of the world is so important to us through all these generations.”

Rob Kaufmann, 1978

“If we don’t have a community trip, there is no way for us to sort of regularly and habitually meet the rest of the people in the community. We have to try here, and we have to make an effort for our Jewish identity and for our love of Israel to be part of who we are and part of our everyday lives.”

Gil Selinger, 1998

“Now Israel is somewhere that I could call home someday if I wanted to. It’s somewhere that I have friends and memories, and I have a note in the wall. I feel like I’ve left a little piece of myself all over Israel. And before that it was just a place on the map.”  

Lucy Adlen, 2021