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Shirley Barish Memorial Israel Experience

SBMIE 2024

JUNE 10 – JULY 7, 2024

Trip Overview

Eligibility & Forms


The Shirley Barish Memorial Israel Experience Fund, given in loving memory of Shirley Barish, is to promote: the education of Congregation Emanu El members to become dedicated advocates on behalf of Israel, to strengthen the bonds between Israel and the Diaspora Jewry and to enhance the US-Israel relationship. In order to deepen Jewish identity and involvement in Jewish life, the BIF will grant scholarships to members of the current Helfman 10th and 11th grade class for Shirley Barish Memorial Israel Experience, an Emanu El sponsored trip to Israel in the summer. The ultimate goal of this educational trip is two-fold: to see and experience many aspects of life in Israel firsthand and to foster and encourage a love for the Jewish homeland. Participating students are required to continue their studies at Helfman Religious School through high school graduation and to present programs based on their experiences during this Emanu El trip to Israel. To be eligible for this trip students will need to become a B’nei Mitzvah at Congregation Emanu El and continue their studies through the 12th grade. For further information on eligibility, please contact Stefani Carlson, Director of Congregational Learning.

RootOne Registration

We are thrilled to announce that the Shirley Barish Memorial Israel Experience (SBMIE) has been approved as a RootOne trip provider partner for Summer 2024. The benefits to this partnership are twofold: by applying for the RootOne Voucher, students will enable Congregation Emanu El to receive $3,000 per participant in funding to help support the trip costs (which are anticipated to be significantly higher this year than in the past). Voucher recipients will also be guided through pre- and post-trip educational opportunities to provide context and nuance around our trip to Israel.

So that we all can access the same educational opportunities, all SBMIE participants are required to apply for the RootOne Voucher program. We understand that some of you have already received RootOne vouchers for Maccabi or other Israel programs. You will be able to use your RootOne alumni credentials to access the educational opportunities with your classmates. If you have not already received a RootOne voucher, please apply here as soon as possible.

RootOne LLC is seeded through a generous grant by The Marcus Foundation and powered by The Jewish Education Project. Visit RootOne.org for more information.

If you have questions about the RootOne Voucher, please contact Stefani at stefanic@emanuelhouston.org or 713.535.6400, ext. 251.


SBMIE Updates

January 2, 2024

BREAKING NEWS: In February, Stefani will be attending a solidarity mission trip to Israel for Jewish education professionals organized by the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE). The goals of the trip are to learn about the situation in Israel firsthand; to volunteer and perform direct acts of service; to comfort and be comforted by the Israeli people; and to bear witness to this moment in history. The trip will also inform the decision-making and planning process for the Shirley Barish Memorial Israel Experience. An important part of the solidarity mission experience will be sharing it – be on the lookout for information about how to follow the trip on social media and about follow-up presentations. More information about the itinerary and trip goals is at Solidarity Mission to Israel The Association of Reform Jewish Educators and HUC School of Education Alumni Association | J² adventures. (j2adventures.com)

Thank you to everyone who attended our parent meeting on Wednesday, December 13, 2023. We understand that this is not only an uncertain time in the world, but also a very busy time in everyone’s lives, and appreciate your making the extra effort to meet in person. While we did not record the meeting, you will find the handouts, including our new Security and Health & Safety Policy documents, as well as a detailed agenda with notes, attached below.

Some key notes and dates:

  • With security foremost in our minds, we are continuing to plan to travel this summer. So that you can make alternative arrangements if needed, we will make a definite decision on March 1, 2024, which is a week ahead of the 90-day mark.
    We are not making decisions in a vacuum. We are in contact with other major teen Israel tour providers, such as the URJ’s Yallah! Israel and BBYO Passport. They have also opened their registration for summer Israel trips, with cancelation permitted through the end of February.
  • Ayelet Tours, our travel provider, has informed us that as of last Tuesday, they are currently running adult group trips to Israel. These are mostly solidarity missions sponsored by Federations, Hadassah, and other organizations. Their biggest concern about group travel, apart from safety, is availability of flights. Right now, only El Al is flying from the U.S. to Israel and flights are very limited. They will need to open up significantly for us to be able to travel safely this summer.
  • No one has yet been billed the $500 per student trip deposit (we double-checked with accounting after the meeting). The deposits will be payable through the online registration portal that Ayelet will be setting up for us when our ability to travel is confirmed.
  • Once flights become available, we will need to book them very quickly. Please ensure that your child has a passport that is valid through at least January 7, 2025. They will need their passport number to book flights.
  • The Israel Trip Release (which includes an acknowledgement of the Code of Conduct), Health History & Examination Form, and Mental Health Questionnaire will be due at the time of online registration. They are provided here for information, and to provide ample time for doctors to complete them.
  • We will have a parent/participant meeting on Wednesday, March 20, 2024 during regular class time to discuss the updated itinerary, flight details, and other necessary information.

We look forward to our next update, on March 1. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Stefani at stefanic@emanuelhouston.org or 713.529.6389.

Eligibility, Required Forms & Trip Release

Eligibility Requirements


The following are some resources on ways to process what is going on in Israel both for yourselves and for your children. Please know that the Emanu El clergy and staff are here to support you. We pray together for a swift and peaceful resolution to this conflict.