Sorkin Teen Trip to Israel

When he was President of the Beth El, Jerry Sorkin (z”l) had a vision to establish a trip to Israel for the Beth El Religious School Confirmation Class.  When he passed away, a committee came together to determine ways in which Jerry’s legacy could be honored.  The advice to the committee was to “think big,” the way Jerry did.

After much thought and discussion, the committee determined that the biggest and best way to honor Jerry would be to develop his idea and make it a reality.

Jerry’s vision to send the Confirmation Class students to Israel highlights the importance our community places on sending our youth to Israel.

Jerry Sorkin, Former President, Congregation Beth El

The Program

The Sorkin Youth Trip to Israel is a culminating experience for Beth El youth completing the Religious School program.  While the first year will be open to two grades, future trips will be open to all students in the confirmation class, and it will be a Beth El experience.  Students will spend time before they go planning and preparing for the experience, and they will bring their experiences back to our community by presenting their stories and perspectives in discussion forums to congregants upon their return.

To make this trip possible for all interested students, the synagogue will subsidize approximately half the total cost of the trip, including air fare.  Through the generosity of community members, as well as Jerry’s friends and family members, Congregation Beth El has been able to establish a fund for this purpose and hopes to continue to make this trip possible for years to come.

The Itinerary

The itinerary for each year will be designed by a Beth El trip leader working with a professional Israeli guide, other Beth El leaders and clergy, parents and the students themselves.  It is most important that the students themselves participate and help customize the trip to make it unique and something in which they will take ownership.

Fundamentally, the trip is designed to strengthen the connection the students have to each other, as well as to strengthen their personal connections to Israel.  Participants will visit multiple locations including the Golan Heights, Galilee, Tel Aviv, Judean Hills, Negev, the Dead Sea, and Jerusalem, and they will experience a variety of other activities together and with Israeli youth.  The tour is designed to be physically active and intellectually engaging.

The Impact

High school student and Beth El member Daniel Bronfman discusses his experience on the first annual Sorkin Youth Trip to Israel.

More Information

If you have questions about the trip, please contact planning committee member Sara Gordon at

Sorkin Youth Trip FAQs

In addition to the guide, there will be one Beth El Clergy member, plus one male and one female adult chaperone. They will be partners with the guide in decision-making during the trip. The chaperones will remain in touch with parents, and there will be frequent check-ins. Modifications to the itinerary can be made as necessary.

The possibility for this would be for the one Shabbat in Jerusalem. If we can coordinate with someone from Beth El who is now in Jerusalem, it could possibly work. It is important for the participants to be together during the last Shabbat in Israel, which will be in Jerusalem. We want to cultivate a feeling of family among the group. One possible activity is for the participants to develop a Shabbat service with the accompanying clergy member ahead of time.

Each family is responsible for deciding whether to purchase travel insurance that addresses their needs. It is done separately from the cost of the trip.

Yes, up to a point. The specific dates when the deposit or portions of the deposit are no longer refundable (because funds must be committed to reserve places and activities) will be provided as soon as possible.

Between $100 – $300

Yes! The basic itinerary provides a framework, but we will work with the students, parents and guide to customize the trip especially for the students who are going. We will look into various suggestions as we develop the final itinerary, including the Tel Aviv museum and the tunnels (i.e., Hezzekiah and Western Wall).

Yes, although probably not an expensive restaurant tour. There are a variety of food tours, and it’s also possible to do a game of sorts. One idea being discussed is to give the kids a fixed amount of money, and send them into the shuk to buy 3 things they have never had before; they then bring it back to the group, talk about what it is, who eats it, when it’s eaten, and try it together.

There will be a security guard/medic with them at all times. Free time will be agreed upon according to what is happening in Israel at the time, with guidance from chaperones and the guide. Free time would occur only in designated places, and the chaperones, clergy and guide will either accompany small groups or, if appropriate, wait in a meeting spot that the kids know in advance. Kids will have phone numbers for chaperones and the guide.

Yes, if at all possible. We plan to work out details depending on how many kids have connections there, where they are, and timing.

The purpose of this trip is to connect personally with each other, learn what Israel means for each individual on the trip, and inspire the kids to learn more and develop their relationship with Israel. Politics is hard to ignore in Israel, and students will be free to engage in political discussions on their own, but this trip will not focus on or present particular political viewpoints or positions.


Yes, except snacks and incidental food.

Participants will be in hotels 1 or 2 nights of the trip, but mostly the group will be staying in youth hostels, camp grounds, and kibbutzim. There will typically be 2 to 4 students per room in hostels.

Yes. The group will have the opportunity to talk with Erez prior to the trip and to meet as a group a few times before they leave. We hope and expect them to get invested in their own experience and to exercise some leadership in developing the itinerary and other planning.

Yes. We will engage the students in a variety of ways to share their experience with younger students in the Religious School, as well as with the broader Beth El community. This may include a Scroll article, posting on the Beth El website, writing a blogpost, leading discussion groups at the shul (perhaps showing pictures from their trip), and other activities.