This summer’s Israel tours have been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
UJIA Israel Experience, along with the youth movements it works with, has informed parents that “the welfare and safety of our participants, alongside your financial security, are our top priorities”.
Together with the Jewish Agency for Israel, UJIA Israel Experience has been arranging tours for 16-year-olds for more than 40 years, continuing in times of war and terror threats.
But coronavirus had presented an “unparalleled” obstacle.
Youth movements will begin the process of organising refunds after Pesach and parents are requested not to contact the movements now to allow them time to manage the process as quickly as possible.
The decision to cancel had been taken after confirmation that any costs arising from coronavirus would not be covered by the insurance policies for the tours.
More than 1,230 teens had registered for this summer, with participation set to be higher than any year since 2010.
Organisers have pledged to ensure that those missing out are “given opportunities to develop their leadership skills and their own sense of commitment and connection to their community, Israel and the Jewish people”.
Options are also being explored to offer an alternative Israel experience at a future date.
UJIA chair, Louise Jacobs said the cancellation had been “a painful decision”. The tours had been “integral in nurturing future generations of Jewish leaders. With the right support, this generation can produce some of the most innovative, creative and resilient leaders our community has known.”