Recession-hit UK families plead for Israel tour grants

One-in-five families planning to send their children on Reform Judaism Israel tours and UK summer camps are applying for bursaries as the credit crunch bites.

Such is the demand for financial assistance that the Movement for Reform Judaism has launched an appeal to raise £10,000 for additional financial assistance.

Movement chair Stephen Moss cited the recession as the reason for “a 45 per cent increase in applications for bursaries on last year, as well as more requests for higher assistance”. Over 80 families have applied for bursaries. Last year, 450 young people went on Reform camps and tours.

Some of the money raised will go towards funding for youth leadership programmes, which Mr Moss says are “critically important” to the movement’s future.

“We are trying to make sure everyone gets on our summer programmes in the UK and Israel and also to continue to invest in our leadership projects.

“Our movement, together with Reform synagogues and the UJIA, have so far been able to give a contribution to every applicant, and we want to be sure that no child misses out on summer camps or an Israel tour due to lack of funds.”

Among the beneficiaries is a London father-of-two who received a £1,700 subsidy towards the £2,300 cost of an Israel tour after his business had experienced serious financial difficulties in the recession.

The man said he was paying for his younger daughter’s batmitzvah later this year and had “no money for holidays.

“I’m fighting to keep my business going and to make household payments,” he explained. “The importance of the Israel tour for my daughter is so great and the bursary was my only hope of sending her on it. I know that she would have been heartbroken if she couldn’t go.

“I had to borrow £300 from my parents just to pay the deposit.”

    Last updated: 2:55pm, June 25 2009