About Us

About Us

Why choose a Yallah! Israel Trip?

We’ve been running teen Israel trips for over 60 years. 

Since 1958, Yallah! Israel (formerly NFTY in Israel) has transformed the lives of over 30,000 teens by creating a summer of exciting challenges, wonderful new friends, and lasting impact.

We are more than just a trip; we are a cultural exchange. 

Your bus will be joined by a group of Israeli teens for five days. Through structured evening programs and casual conversations on the trail, you’ll have a chance to get to know your Israeli peers and learn about their lives. Throughout the trip you will also meet with Israelis from different walks of life who will share their experiences and reflections with you.   

You can customize your experience to what interests you. 

Do you want to absorb all Israel has to offer, but through the lens of a topic you’re passionate about?

Customize your experience and choose one of our specialty trips – Sci-Tech in Israel, Eden Israel Experience, or Sports Israel – and focus on your area of interest!  

Chaperoned flights are included in the cost of the program. 

When your teen arrives for their international flight our team will be there to support them through the check-in process.  Our chaperones fly with the teens and are available to help with any concerns during the flight and upon arriving in Poland and/or Israel.

Our trips are part of the suite of programs offered by the Union for Reform Judaism. 

We approach our Israel education through a Reform lens, bringing our values of repairing the world and holding in tension multiple truths.

We know health and safety. 

The safety and security of participants is always our top priority. Our itineraries are built with caution in mind, and we are in touch with Israeli authorities throughout the summer in case last-minute travel changes must be made. In addition, each group is often accompanied by a licensed guard, and our staff go through a vigorous training to prepare them for any health or safety issue. Learn more about our approach to safety and security

All of our staff are trained by us – from counselors to education leaders. 

We know that the adults in charge can make or break a trip. Our education team is prepared to ensure that they not only know the base material but can bring relevant meaning and ways of engagement. Our counselor training focuses on high-level participant care including both physical safety and emotional well-being. For months our year-round team prepares to welcome you to Israel and to make sure that your experience is meaningful, safe, and fun!

We know how to do fun! 

From camel rides and playing in the Dead Sea, to hanging out over lunch and joyful Shabbat celebrations, Yallah! Israel knows how to do fun!  Join us to learn new skills, have conversations that inspire you, see all the sites of Israel, and hang out with the new friends you’ll make! 

Yallah! israel TEAM

Ariel Fogelman

Director, Yallah! Israel

Prior to Yallah! Israel, Ariel served as Director of programs for Keshet Educational Tourism and as director of the Haifa University Tour Guides Course. Ariel continues to do reserve duty in the IDF Educational Corps as a Commander at the Speakers unit, in charge of contextualizing security situations for soldiers on ground at changing circumstances and war times. Ariel has also taught Bible in the Israeli school system and was appointed by the Ministry of Education as a mentor for Bible teachers in the Jerusalem area. Ariel earned a Masters Degree in Jewish Education from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and is a graduate of the Israeli School of Tourism at Haifa University. He is a featured guest lecturer for Teacher and Guide Training Programs and for the IDF with specialties in Biblical Studies & History, and Israel Studies.


Ilana Picker

Associate Director, Teen Israel Immersive Programs

Ilana first joined the Yallah! Israel team as Registrar in 2016 before moving into her current role as Associate Director. Continuing her passion for all things Israel, Ilana is currently in her final year of earning a Master’s in Israel Education through George Washington University, in partnership with The iCenter. Prior to that, Ilana graduated from Goucher College with a degree in Communications and Media Studies and a minor in Political Science. Throughout High School Ilana was actively involved in NFTY-GER, and was a participant on NFTY in Israel and Urban Mitzvah Corps. Ilana is an enthusiastic traveler discovering different cultures, sites, and sounds of our global world and is so grateful to be able to use her passion and experience to send thousands of teens on Yallah! Israel.


Ruby Sommer

Associate Director, Yallah! Israel

Ruby was born and raised in Israel. He served in the IDF for 4 years in a Commanders position for a special unit. Following his service, Ruby became a certified tour guide. Ruby has worked for Yallah! Israel (formerly NFTY in Israel) every summer since 1984. In 2000, Ruby became the Director of Operations and Budgets, before becoming the Associate Director. He is married with two kids.


Judy Goldstein

Associate Director, Community Care, Teen Israel Immersive Programs

Judy graduated from Hebrew University with a Masters in Social Work. She joined the URJ in 2005 working for Yallah! Israel (formerly NFTY in Israel) in the summer and then joined the Heller High team full time in 2007. Judy is part of the Israel Immersives team and oversees Participant Care for both Heller High and NFTY in Israel. Judy is originally from Philadelphia and moved to Israel in 1988. She was a Commander and Hebrew teacher in Basic training for new immigrants from 1998 to 2001, and was also the commander of a course that trains teachers and prepares them to be commanders and Hebrew teachers. Later, she spent six years of hadracha as a youth counselor in the Noam youth movement, and a number of years as a counselor and educator for Yallah! Israel programs. She lives in Israel with her husband and daughter.


Maura Koenig

Assistant Director, Recruitment & Partnerships, Teen Israel Immersive Programs

Maura Koenig is back in her hometown of Syracuse, NY after 7 years in NYC. Maura’s deepest passion lies in Israel Education and the profound joy of connecting young people to the rich culture, history, and spirit of Israel. She is Birthright Israel fellow, an Ifellow and has staffed numerous Birthright and teen Israel trips. This is truly a full circle moment for her, coming back and working for the program that brought her to Israel for the first time in the summer of 2005 with her URJ Eisner Camp friends. Maura has a Master’s in Organizational Leadership and Innovation from HUC Zelikow, and a BA in Theatre from SUNY Oswego. In her free time, Maura enjoys spending time with her boyfriend Jeremy in their garden, DIY projects and testing out new dessert recipes.

Raya Seidman

Assistant Director, Community Care, Teen Israel Immersive Programs

Raya made Aliyah to Israel in 2020 and currently lives in Tel Aviv. Raya most recently graduated from Yeshiva University with a Masters in Social Work. Prior to that, Raya graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelors in Youth Development and Jewish Studies. Raya has grown up in the URJ; she spent many of her summers at OSRUI, she studied for a semester of high school in Israel as a student on Heller High, as well as participated in NFTY Missouri Valley. Raya is passionate about bridging the gap between Jews in North America and Jews in Israel. Raya feels honored to be working with the teens on Yallah! Israel, their families, and the counselors to help create a meaningful and memorable experience for everyone.

Ezra Monroy

Assistant Director, Yallah! Israel

Ezra made Aliyah to Israel in 2011 and has never stopped exploring everything Israel has to offer. After serving in the paratrooper brigade of the IDF, Ezra decided to follow his dream of blending all of his passions together into one profession, by combining his background in Jewish youth summer camps and special education with his dedication to informal education. After completing the certified tour guides course, Ezra began working with Yallah! Israel (formerly NFTY in Israel) as a guide, and continued on to lead the Educators Course for the 2023 summer program. Ezra is dedicated to creating a fun, personable, safe and educational environment for every teen in Yallah! Israel as they discover their own unique connection to Israel while creating lasting memories and communities just as he did the first time he visited Israel.

Alex Bridge

Program Operations & Administrative Associate, Teen Israel Immersive Programs

Alex Bridge is originally from Oceanside, NY and currently resides in Delray Beach, FL. Alex graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2015 with a bachelor’s in business administration with a focus in Hospitality Management. Her passion for helping the Jewish community was solidified in her experiences with Hillel and Birthright at FAU. Prior to starting at the URJ, Alex was Associate Regional Director for BBYO in three regions. In Alex’s current role she handles backend logistics in order to help URJ teens get to Israel. She is excited to continue to work in the Jewish world and help teens explore their Jewish identity.


Resources for congregations

Thanks for helping to spread the word about Yallah! Israel, as well as the other 60+ youth programs that the URJ has to offer! These ready-to-use tools make it easy to help each of your families find the right experience for them. From regional and specialty camps, to leadership and social justice opportunities, to Israel and beyond, there is something for everyone in your congregation. If you have any questions, or are looking for something you don’t see here, contact us!