One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Mickey Leland Kibbutzim Internship Foundation, Houston TX
Contact(s): Randy Czarlinsky, Executive Director, Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston: (713) 729-7000
Purpose: To send non-Jewish students to Israel to experience life on a kibbutz and examine Israeli and Middle Eastern life

Background Program Operations Outcomes


In 1977, the late Rep. Mickey Leland visited a kibbutz in Israel. Inspired by his trip, Leland created the Mickey Leland Kibbutzim Internship Foundation in 1980 to enable inner-city students attending school or living in his district (the 18th congressional district of Texas) to experience life on a kibbutz and modern Israeli society and observe religious and historical sites. The program receives money from corporate sponsors and private charitable donations, which go toward travel, lodging and food.

Program Operations

The Mickey Leland Kibbutzim Internship Foundation sends 10 high school juniors annually to Israel for a six-week work and travel experience. The foundation's board, composed of multicultural representatives and alumni, choose the participants. The majority of the interns are either Asian, black, Hispanic or white, and they must meet a set of criteria that includes strong academics, leadership skills and outside recommendations. Prior to the students' departure, they must attend a four-part seminar on Israel and the Middle East. During June, the interns fly to Israel, where they experience life on a kibbutz and examine Israeli and Middle Eastern life. Activities include interacting with Israeli Arabs and Jews, working on archeological digs, touring the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, visiting a youth village and spending one week residing in the home of an Israeli family. The program specifically looks for students who are leaders and can work without supervision. While a guide is with them in Israel, no adult from the Houston community participates. In both Israel and the United States, students lead seminars on ethnic and racial diversity before school groups, churches and other corporate and nonprofit organizations.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

The Jewish community in Houston has received extensive benefits from the foundation, because when participants return to Houston they want to learn Hebrew, participate in community events similar to those they had experienced in Israel, and lecture to community groups about their experience. At the 15th reunion, 125 of 150 alumni interns were in attendance.

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