Source: Jerusalem Post
A new umbrella group, Lapid Israel, formed in 2008, aims to bring a high level
of organization, publicity and public funding to bringing younger Diaspora Jews - those still in high school - on educational trips to Israel. The 24 organizations represented by Lapid bring some 15,000 high-school-age Jewish youths to Israel on formal programs each year. Lapid aims to become as successful as its best-known cousins, Birthright-Israel – Taglit, and MASA, private initiatives funded jointly by Israel, philanthropists, the Jewish Agency and others.
The first step is to launch a MASA-style grant program, with organizers hoping to bring participation costs for many high school Israel programs down from the current estimate of $6,000-plus to approximately $3,000. Lapid has set a goal of doubling the current number of annual high school-age participants within seven years by bringing down costs of teen Israel programs significantly.
In the face of severe budgetary problems at the Jewish Agency, Lapid is pinning its hopes for actual funding on the Israeli Government. To that end, Lapid has formed a working committee to draw up a small pilot program for 2010, which it plans to submit to Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein in the coming weeks. Lapid hopes that the pilot will add perhaps 1,000 participants more than in previous years.