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Mifgash means "meeting" in Hebrew, and this is what the Bureau of Jewish Education has facilitated for each of the past eight years. Nine Israeli teens from the Hebrew University High School in Jerusalem are invited as our guests for a two-week visit and to bring Israel to life for our Orange County community through their stories, personal passions, and experiences.

While here, these students take part in an important educational exchange with our local students from 18 area synagogues, a Jewish day school, and approximately eight public high schools. In addition, the Mifgash delegation represents the State of Israel at a community-wide panel event. This educational exchange is crucial to the development of Zionism in our community. Our students, of whom many have not yet had an opportunity to travel to Israel, are strongly impacted by the Mifgash. Their sense of Jewish pride for the State of Israel, their responsibility to the people and land, and their commitment to Klal Yisrael – community – is strengthened by this visit. The Mifgash delegation also spends a weekend retreat at camp with our 3rd - 8th grade students and select 12th grade students as well as speaking at area religious schools.

While the Mifgash students work hard while they are here and fulfill many obligations, it's not just all hard work! The students have the opportunity to travel around Southern California and visit many local Orange County attractions, as well as spend a day in Los Angeles. The Israeli students are hosted by local TALIT 11th and 12th grade families and get to experience Jewish American life as we live it here in Orange County. Many long-time friendships have grown out of the Mifgash experience, and our American teens now have friends to visit when they visit Israel.

This year's Mifgash delegation will arrive on March 9, 2010 and stay through March 22. Many activities are planned, including a special lunch and discussion with the students on Tuesday, March 16. This luncheon is open to the community. Come meet these amazing students and hear about their lives in Jerusalem. You will leave with a piece of Israel in your heart. The lunch will be held at the Merage JCC from 11:45 am to 1:30 pm in Conference Rooms C & D. Cost of lunch is $18.00 on a first-come-first-served basis and space is limited to 50 people. If interested in attending, please contact Jan Benkle by Tuesday March 9, by e-mail, [email protected], or by phone, 949-435-3450, x326.