Reform and Liberal movements end Israel gap year programme early

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Reform and Liberal movements end Israel gap year programme early

Joint statement by progressive groups and youth wings say the decision came 'after careful consideration' and affected participants will be supported by a licensed therapist

Jack Mendel is the former Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Progressive Jewish organisations and youth movements have ended their gap year programme in Israel early due to coronavirus.

Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism, alongside their youth movements RSY-Netzer and LJY-Netzer, issued a statement regarding the conclusion of the scheme, called Shnat.

The programme, which runs from mid January to mid June costs £10,500 in full, and includes 8 participants from LJY and 5 from RSY this year, all of whom have finished school but have not yet begun university.

A spokesperson for the two progressive organisations said they are “looking to arrive at a fair and equitable financial arrangement” following its premature end.

It said the decision was made “in order to protect our young people in Israel” in wake of the spread of the infection across the world. It was announced on Monday that the number of cases in Israel had reached 344.

“After careful consideration, and working closely with colleagues from Netzer Olami and the World Union for Progressive Judaism, we have made this decision in the best interests of our participants.

“The participants’ response to this difficult situation has been admirable and we are grateful to parents for their patience and understanding at this time”, adding that those taking part will “continue to be supported by a licensed therapist and other local staff while they remain in Israel.”

“We are working hard with partners in Israel to bring them home to the UK at the earliest reasonable opportunity and will continue to support them on their Netzer journey once back in the UK.”

On Friday, Liberal Judaism announced it had cancelled a youth camp in the spring to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading.

The six-day Machaneh Aviv, which was to run from 4 to 19 April, will not go ahead, but the movement’s biennial weekend and summer programme remain scheduled.

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