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KAHAL aspires to give the tens of thousands of Jewish students studying abroad each year the resources, tools, and connections they need to meaningfully engage with the Jewish community and deepen their Jewish identity during one of the most important, meaningful, and enduring experiences of their lives.
Below are some student insights on our mission based on their experience with KAHAL. Check them out!
WHAT WE DO[/vc_column_inner]
Wherever you’re traveling, whether it’s London or Lisbon, Paris or Prague, Shanghai or Sydney, KAHAL will connect you to immersive experiences in your local community or one nearby. Working with local Jewish students, families, organizations, and community leaders, KAHAL will set you up with exciting experiences. In addition, we have great DIY resources for students who may not have a Jewish community in their host city. Check out some of our opportunities below!
“Earlier this year, my brother, my friend Sam, and I spent the weekend in Paris. While we certainly did all of the touristy stuff, one of the highlights of the trip was being invited to a Shabbat dinner with a local family. This was my first shabbat dinner while abroad. It was amazing how despite speaking different languages and coming from different backgrounds, we felt right at home with them. We were treated to a delicious home cooked meal and intense debates about the differences in Jewish culture in France compared to the U.S. We also bonded over being PSG soccer fans! KAHAL helped us to experience Jewish Paris in a way no tour could possibly have done, and made me feel more connected to the global Jewish community.“”]
“As a Jewish student study abroad student coming from a home university with a big Jewish community, I found that the adjustment was very difficult. However, I also found that my new friends were eager to learn about my religion and how I practiced it. Not only were they respectful of my religious boundaries, but they went out of their way to make sure I was always comfortable. Being able to host a Shabbat dinner in my apartment was an amazing opportunity for me to show my new friends just how fun being Jewish can really be! Everyone really enjoyed themselves and at the end of the night, were left with a great taste of Judaism (and delicious food) in their mouths. I was so happy to be able to celebrate Shabbat in a way that was meaningful to me and to show that to my friends. I hope to continue showing my friends what it means to be Jewish over the course of my semester abroad.“
VOLUNTEER AND INTERN
“My friend and I traveled from our study abroad site in Florence to London to immerse ourselves in the local Jewish life and particularly Jewish student life. We attended a Shabbat dinner organized by Central London FND (Friday Night Dinners), also known as the Union of Jewish Students. The best part of the experience was getting to know other Jewish students from the local community. After an obligatory round of Jewish geography with each new friend, we discussed several Jewish topics, including Hanukkah in London, the social and cultural view of the Jewish community in London, and even our perspectives on Israel. However, we also connected as student peers, talking about the differences between English and American TV shows and politics and the differences between our two colleges—New York University (NYU) and University College London (UCL). When we decided to visit London and specifically the Jewish community in London, we never imagined being able to connect with Jewish students in the same way that we do at our own main NYU campus in NYC. If nothing else, I know I have made Jewish friends in London whom I can stay connected with moving forward.“”]
MEET LOCALS AND OTHER STUDENTS
“Organized Jewish life in the Galapagos was non-existent, and because of this, we decided to organize our own Seder. The Seder was amazing. Out of the 30 people who came, only 5 of us were Jews; it was more a teaching and cultural experience for students in the program who were interested in learning about Judaism/the Seder. It was still really meaningful and we were able to maintain traditions while helping people who were unfamiliar with Jewish tradition participate. It was amazing to co-lead a Seder and help bring people into the cultural experience. One girl came up to me after and told me that her new favorite food were Matzah balls. The Seder also prompted an interesting discussion; it turns out that there was a girl there who found out a couple of years ago that her grandfather was actually a Jew who escaped Nazi Germany, but the family never knew. The Seder seemed to have a huge impact on her and also to other students who were learning about Jewish faith for the first time.“”]
“It’s hard to process everything we lived while in Poland. One moment I was meeting Jews from all over the world and exchanging anecdotes and playing Jewish geography, and the next I was standing in a concentration camp. I felt comfort and friendship and happiness and I also felt sorrow and pain and despair. The March of the Living was beyond a doubt the highlight of my abroad experience for exactly that reason–even though some of us were living the toughest days of our lives, the fact that we were Jewish and alive and laughing and crying together is the best form of revenge. The testimonies of the survivors, the places we saw and the history we retraced left an impact on me that I’ll never forget. I am so grateful to KAHAL for making this experience possible, and I know that those of us who are witnesses of this unspeakable horror now have the responsibility to make sure the rest of the world never forgets.“”]
LEADERSHIP AND ACTIVISM
“My Passover Seder in Myanmar was one of the most memorable Jewish experiences in my life. Having never done a Seder without my family, it was hard to imagine what my Passover experience abroad would be. When I decided to go to Myanmar for Passover, it only compounded my anxiety in not knowing what to expect at the Seder given that Myanmar has a Jewish community of under 100 people and the Chabad was less than 1 year old. However, my Seder experience absolutely exceeded my expectations. I had the chance to interact with incredible Jews from across the world from Venezuela to native Burmese people. I really enjoyed eating all of the fresh foods and learning about the various customs from each Seder guest. It was so exciting to see the community come together and thrive on Passover and it will be an experience I will never forget.“”]
HIGH HOLIDAYS AND PASSOVER
Each year, more than 30,000 Jewish students study abroad. These programs range from three months to more than one year and are a critical component of students’ developmental journey. A study of 6600 study abroad alumni from five decades concluded that study abroad was “the most impactful aspect of their [college] experiences, perceived as being far more important than any other aspect of their undergraduate experience.” The major qualitative findings of this study was that “overwhelmingly, the study abroad experience was among the most influential experiences in participants’ lives.”
KAHAL'S HISTORY AND NAME[/vc_column_inner]
Founded in 2013 as the American voice to the World Union of Jewish Students, KAHAL quickly pivoted. Having studied abroad themselves, the founders realized too few study abroad students were taking advantage of the opportunities presented by international Jewish communities. For most students, studying abroad is a transformational and impactful experience, but not a Jewish one. Before KAHAL, the Jewish community was missing a critical opportunity to increase students’ connection to the global Jewish people. This global sense of community inspired our name, KAHAL, and has ignited our work since the organization’s inception. Today, KAHAL is the premier organization for Jewish study abroad students around the world, helping thousands immerse themselves in Jewish life in 57 countries and 127 cities around the world.