Next winter’s Journey into Jewish Heritage may be last

The Avi Chai Foundation plans to pull funding; unless the program finds alternative, its upcoming two trips will be its last.

Heritage Plan (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Heritage Plan
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Since 2002, Journey into Jewish Journey has sent over 300 participants to more than a dozen countries to preserve the fading memories of long-gone Jewish communities, or those nearing extinction, thanks to the generosity of the Avi Chai Foundation, its main sponsor.
But the endowment plans to pull out next year and unless the program finds new funding its upcoming two trips will be its last.
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“From the start we’ve been funded by Avi Chai,” Hana Holland, the program’s project director, said on Tuesday. “We’ve tried to phase in new donors such as the Claims Conference and the Jewish Colonization Association but unless we find someone to pay for 50 to 60 percent of our operations we’ll have to close.”
Many alumni who feel passionately about their Journey into Jewish Heritage experiences have donated to keep the program running.
Hila Lothan, 30, from Tel Aviv, took part in Journey’s expedition to Mumbai, India, in 2007, where she used her training as an architect to record the buildings built by the local Jewish community. She raved about the program.
“It’s an amazing experience that brings people together from many fields of interest as well as secular and religious Jews,” she said. “In India we went to a synagogue with mixed male and female seating where we had to take off our shoes and there was a lotus tree at the entrance. It was very inspiring.”