Israel tour for teenagers cancelled AGAIN after ‘every route exhausted’

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Israel tour for teenagers cancelled AGAIN after ‘every route exhausted’

UJIA said 'the only safe and responsible course of action available' was to halt trips this July, as Israel opens up only to those who've been vaccinated.

Israel tour group at the Kotel before the pandemic (Credit: UJIA)
Israel tour group at the Kotel before the pandemic (Credit: UJIA)

Israel tour programmes for 16-year-olds have been cancelled for the second year running due to the pandemic.

The announcement was made on Monday by UJIA after “every route has been exhausted” to make it go ahead.

Last year more than 1,200 Jewish teens across 11 different Jewish youth movement were left disappointed after Covid-19 prevented month-long trips to Israel from taking place. Ordinarily, tour groups for year 11s costs around £3,250.

The cancellation comes despite Israel and the UK having run successful vaccination programmes, which have driven down case numbers in both countries. Israel’s health ministry announced that travellers would be allowed to come to Israel by mid-May if they could prove they had been vaccinated. The vast majority of 16-year-olds would not have got a vaccine by July when tour takes place.

Mandie Winston, chief executive of UJIA, said: “Every route has been exhausted not just once, but multiple times. We have a responsibility to the community to make a decision, and, very reluctantly, we have decided that this is the only safe and responsible course of action available.

“It is inconceivable that teenagers under 18 years of age who wish to participate will all have been vaccinated by July and uncertainty over insurance and Covid-19 protocols means that, with heavy hearts, we can’t run Israel Tours this summer,” added Winston.

“We know how disappointing it is for teenagers not to be able to take part in an Israel Tour this summer and we’re grateful to them and their families for their patience while we did everything we could to try to make it possible.”

Irit Barash, the head of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s delegation to the UK and Western Europe, said: “The connections between Israel and the UK Jewish community are an inspiration and Israel Tour plays such a crucial part in strengthening those ties. It is sad that we can’t go ahead with tours this summer but it is important that we continue to work together to provide Jewish teenagers with formative experiences of engagement with Israel.”

While tour has been cancelled, for the second year running UJIA is running a £140,000 Summer Engagement fund to ensure Israel education takes place.

It has also said there will be significant investment in Israel trips for 2022 including bursaries and more places on Birthright, Onward Israel and opportunities for funding with gap year programmes.

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