JDC Entwine has been leading Insider Trips for American Jewish young adults to see and interact with Jewish communities all over the world. But even with that success and history, the organization has picked the Twin Cities to be its partner in a first-of-its-kind program.
The partnership between JDC Entwine and YALA, the Young Adult program between Minneapolis and St. Paul Jewish Federations, is a three-year partnership that includes not just annual trips, but a local leadership program that will meet before and after each year’s trip.
“This type of partnership is innovative,” said Michelle Rutman, JDC Entwine’s Midwest community manager. “We find the relationship between us and the community in the Twin Cities to be very important, and finding ways to connect young, Jewish leaders to global Jewish causes is something that’s really important to us. And it’s important to partner with Federations such as Minneapolis and St. Paul, because they know their community best.”
YALA Twin Cities Director Gabe Herstig said the local learning component is what really makes the partnership stand out.
“When looking at organizations to partner with, JDC Entwine was a simple choice for YALA Twin Cities,” Herstig said. “JDC (The American Joint Distribution Committee) has such a rich history in the Twin Cities. The work the organization does spans over 100 years and throughout the globe. For Twin Cities Jewish Young Adults to be able to learn more about the history and infrastructure of their local Jewish communities and to then be able to have an international experience to see the work JDC does is fantastic.”
Rutman said that through programs like YALA, the infrastructure is in place for a partnership like this one to work.
“The Federation has done a really great job at engaging young Jewish adults, and the community is just vibrant in and of itself,” she said. “There’s so much opportunity for young Jewish adults. We want to fill in that global content piece that’s outside of Israel, and I think that’s where the partnership works.”
The second YALA Twin Cities/JDC Entwine trip is to Greece from Nov. 6-13, 2023. Registration starts on Sunday, March 19. An open house event will be held at ModernWell (2909 Wayzata Blvd. S., Minneapolis) from 5-7 p.m. that night. There will be Greek-catered food and drink, as well as more information about the local learning series. The event will be free of cost.
The first trip, which took place last fall, went to Argentina and gave five local Jews an up-close look at the Jewish community in Buenos Aires.
“The purpose of these trips in the first place is to really expose Jews in America to vibrant and thriving Jewish communities all over the world,” Rutman said. “And I think with our first trip to Argentina, that’s something that we were really able to portray throughout the trip. It was really eye-opening for all of us.”
For Ivan Gil, who identifies as a Jewish-Latino, the trip was a chance to embrace Judaism in one of his native languages.
“I had the chance to connect with a few other Latino Jews and when I lived in California, but I never really had the chance to be part of a Spanish-speaking Jewish community,” Gil said. “So when we arrived in Argentina, just being able to connect with the locals through language, it was something very impactful and very meaningful.”
Gil, a member of the YALA steering committee, said he had regularly watched the livestream of services from synagogues in Latin America, but this was his first opportunity to be in a synagogue to experience Shabbat services.
“That’s something that I’ve always wanted to do … to be fully present for an experience like this,” he said. “Being able to welcome to Shabbat with other fellow Spanish speakers and Latinos, and just seeing more people who look like me who I can connect with was definitely like a life-changing experience.”