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Israel Experience Savings Program

For further information or questions contact Marci Galinkin, (518) 783-7800 ext. 239 or email

What is the Israel Experience Savings Program?
The Israel Experience is an individual incentive program administrated by Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York (“Federation”). Its purpose is to help provide Jewish youth with the opportunity and means to visit and study in Israel.

How does it work?
A parent or account guardian opens an Israel Experience account by completing an application form. It is never too early to open an account! Deposits are made to the account by family/friends, with Federation matching deposits annually. All deposits must be received by the end of business on December 31 to receive the Federation match.

Federation matches $1 (one dollar) for every $1.75 (one dollar, seventy-five) that is deposited to a maximum of $100 per year and a $1,000 lifetime maximum amount. The maximum account balance is $5000. There is no required minimum deposit.

Additionally, interest will be accrued annually on the balance in the account at year-end. When a child is ready to take a trip to Israel, the account guardian provides trip information to Federation and Federation sends the account funds directly to the trip provider.

Is there a minimum family donation to the Federation?
Yes, a $50 minimum annual contribution to the Federation by the family is required in order to receive a match and annual interest in any given year.

May family/friends deposit more than $175 to an individual account in a year?
Yes, they may deposit more than $175 in an account, but Federation will only match the first $175 deposited. (Federation’s maximum match is $100 per year up to $1,000 in total, and the maximum lifetime balance in the account cannot exceed $5,000). Interest will be paid on all family/friend deposits made to the account as long as membership is maintained and until the $5,000 balance is reached.

What is an approved Israel program?
An approved peer-based program (youth group based trips, GAP year programs, semester/ year abroad programs – high school or college) is one that emphasizes an enriching Jewish learning or living experience in Israel. Please contact the Federation office to have your program approved. A family trip does not meet the requirements of an approved program. Birthright trips are already funded so they do not qualify for Israel Experience funds, but a Birthright Extension trip may qualify depending on the educational component of the trip. Please contact the office to discuss.

At what age may an Israel trip be taken?
Research has shown that a trip to Israel can have a most profound effect on high school and college students. Israel Experience will cover educational programs for participants starting at age 12 and up until age 29.

Who is eligible to participate in the Israel Experience Program?
Any child whose Israel Experience account guardian (parent or grandparent) supports the Federation’s annual campaign with a minimum $50 gift is eligible to participate in the Israel Experience program. The child or the account guardian must reside in Federation’s service area at the time the account is established. As long as the account guardian continues their minimum annual $50 donation to the Federation the account will continue to receive matches and earn interest up to the maximum $1,000 in matches and maximum $5,000 account balance.

How is the Israel Experience account disbursed?
The Israel Experience account is disbursed by Federation upon appropriate notice, directly to the trip provider. Should this not be possible please contact the office to discuss options.

What if the cost of the trip is different from the amount in the Israel Experience account?
If the cost of the trip exceeds the value of the Israel Experience account, the parent or account guardian is responsible for additional trip costs. If the cost of the trip is less than the value of the Israel Experience account, the excess funds are prorated and returned to the account guardian, synagogue and Federation as if the account was closed.

It is also possible to keep the Israel Experience account open for future trips and can continue to be added to within the guidelines.

What if trip participation is canceled after funds have been paid?
The Federation should be notified as soon as possible about the cancellation and the family should work with the Federation to return the funds to the Federation. The parents/account guardian is responsible for all non-refundable fees charged by the trip provider. In cases where non-refundable fees are deducted from Federation’s reimbursement, those fees will be deducted from the family/friend portion of the account. If the deducted fees exceed the family/friend value of the account, the remainder of the charges will be deducted from the interest portion of the account.

By what point in the calendar year must the family/friend deposit be made to receive the match from Federation for that year?
The family/friend deposit must be received by close of business December 31 to qualify for Federation’s annual match for that calendar year.

When will Federation’s match be posted to a participant’s account?
Federation’s match will be posted to a participant’s account by the end of February of the following year.

Will participants be billed for the annual deposit to their Israel Experience account?
Federation will not send bills for deposits to an Israel Experience account. Reminder postcards will be mailed in November regarding the December 31 deadline.

May an individual withdraw from the Israel Experience program?
An individual may withdraw from the Israel Experience program by giving Federation written notice. Upon withdrawal, the family/friend contributions will be returned to the account guardian. The deposits from sponsoring organizations (synagogues) will be returned to the sponsoring organization. Federation’s match and any interest will be returned to the Israel Experience fund.

What happens if an individual reaches age 29 and has not utilized the Israel Experience Funds?
If the individual reaches age 29 without having used their Israel Experience funds the parents/individual will be contacted and provided with the following options: 

  • The contributions to the account can be refunded. Matches and interest are not refundable.
  • Synagogue funds shall be returned to the synagogue
  • The parents/student can apply all or a portion of their contributions to a Federation pledge (matches and interest are returned to the Israel Experience Fund)
  • The parent/student could have the funds transferred to another family member for their use for an Israel Experience Trip. (Limitations exist on the amount of matches and interest transferred to an already existing Israel Experience account.)

What is the Israel Experience certificate I got in the mail?
Someone made a contribution to your account. That contribution will count towards the match. It is not a contribution to Jewish Federation. It is to your account.


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