Here you will find answers to common questions about the Passport to Israel Program.
Click here to find out additional information on enrollment & eligibility, benefits the program brings, and the Passport to Israel application.
Passport to Israel is a St. Paul Jewish community savings incentive program that helps families save money to send their teens on educational trips to Israel. It is a partnership between families, participating synagogues and the St. Paul Jewish Federation.
Studies show that educational trips to Israel have a powerful positive impact on a young person’s Jewish identity now and throughout their life. For example, adults who have visited Israel on a Jewish trip attend services more often and are members of other Jewish organizations at a higher level than adults who did not make such a trip. By helping families cover the costs of a teenager’s trip to Israel, the St. Paul Jewish community is making an investment in our future.
“The time I spent in Israel has instilled with me an
even greater passion for Judaism and the land of
Israel than ever before.”
–Alexander Muss High School in Israel participant
Any Jewish child in the St. Paul area can enroll. Usually families begin when their child is 8, so they have the full balance available at age 16, but starting later is fine. The Federation matching funds are available to families who make a gift to The Federation Annual Campaign. Your gift to The Federation is allocated among all the St. Paul Jewish community agencies to help keep our community strong and vibrant for your children and your children’s children.
You enroll through your synagogue. Each spring, your synagogue will notify you when it is time to make your deposit in your child’s Passport account. The synagogue will send your deposit and the synagogue’s match to The Federation where the community match will be added. In this way, each year your child will have an additional $350 added into their account (plus interest if any).
Family deposit: $150
Synagogue match: $50
Federation community match: $150
The funds are held in an interest bearing account with The Federation. Your child is eligible for The Federation match for up to 8 years, for a total of $1,200 from the St. Paul Jewish community. By the end of 8 years, you have saved $2,800, plus interest, if any.
What if my child decides not to go to Israel?
While the community’s goal is for every St. Paul child to go on an educational trip to Israel, we recognize that some young people are not able to make such a trip by the time they are in their early 20s. If you think your son or daughter may be able to use the funds after the age of 22, we will keep the account intact; please keep us informed. If your son or daughter will not be taking a trip, we will refund deposits made by you and the synagogue. The Federation will keep our matching portion and interest to defray costs.
What if we move or change synagogues?
If you move, you can still keep the account and even continue to make deposits. If your new synagogue doesn’t participate in the program, you will only be eligible for The Federation yearly match as long as you make your yearly deposits directly to The Federation.
How do I know when to send in my check?
Your synagogue will notify you every spring. It’s important to respond to their notice promptly. If you are a participant who doesn’t belong to a synagogue, you will hear from The Federation directly.
What if we miss making a deposit one year?
Your account will remain intact even if you miss making a deposit. The year you miss, you won’t receive any matches.
How will I know what the balance is in the account?
You will receive annual statements.
What if we don’t belong to a synagogue?
You can still enroll your child in the program, directly though The Federation. You will receive the $150 from The Federation as your match.