VISIT is a Savings Partnership between the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley and the families residing in our community, each contributing funds toward an educational program in Israel for participating students. The purpose of the VISIT Israel Savings Partnership is to enable our youth and young adults (from the summer following 9th grade to age 25) to have an Israel experience as part of their Jewish education.
The Federation will earmark $200 a year, up to a maximum of eight years, while families will contribute a minimum of $300 each year to a special fund established in the name of the child. If the family has participated for the full eight years, a base fund of $4,000, plus accrued interest (interest rates may vary) on the savings from the family contribution, will exist to help pay for an educational trip to Israel to be used at the time the student has completed the 9th grade until the age of 25.
All contributors to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley may enroll their children in the VISIT Israel Savings Partnership. To qualify for a matching grant, the child must reside in the Lehigh Valley. In situations where children live or move outside of the Lehigh Valley, the family may use this as a savings program, without the Federation matching funds. Parents may enroll their children at any age, but it is recommended that they enroll in 3rd grade to fully participate in the 8-year matching program. The family must donate each year to the Federation's Annual Campaign in order for the child to remain enrolled in the VISIT Israel Savings Partnership.
Matching funds are given for each year the family paid its minimum contribution of $300 (per child) toward this partnership, except during the actual year of travel. A participating family may suspend payments at any time. A student is eligible to resume participation in any succeeding year until the time of the trip. Accumulated contributions of the family and Federation may be applied to an eligible Israel program at a later time.
If the cost of your chosen Israel experience program exceeds the amount saved and matched in the VISIT account, you will be responsible for the difference.
If the amount saved plus the matches for each year of participation exceed the cost of the program, we will adjust the payments accordingly. For example, if you participated in the VISIT Savings Partnership for 8 years, you would have made 8 payments for $300 ($2,400) and the match would be 8 x 200 ($1,600). The savings account would then total $4,000. If the cost of the chosen program is only $2,500, we would make the following adjustments:
Should a family wish to withdraw a child for any reason, the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley will refund the family’s contribution plus accrued interest. If the family moves from the Lehigh Valley, funds may continue to be saved in the VISIT Israel Savings Partnership, but matching funds will not be available.
If a student for whom the savings partnership has been established chooses not to participate in an approved Israel program, the funds may be transferred to a sibling; however, a maximum of a single $200 match can only be made for any individual for any specific fiscal year. The funds are not transferable except to a sibling.
The program will be administered by the Federation which will deposit all family payments in the designated financial institution. (Participants will receive annual reports on the status of their accounts.) At the time of the student’s trip to Israel, the Federation will contribute the funds it has earmarked for the student, paid directly to the Israel program chosen by the family. The family must notify the Federation thirty (30) days prior to the time funds are needed.
The family payment toward the savings partnership will be matched in the following calendar year by the Federation. Families that enroll children and do not participate in the full 8 years of contributions may need to contribute additional funds in order to save enough money for a trip to Israel. They are welcome to save additional money in the account; however, the Federation match is a maximum of $200 per year.
THE FAMILY’S CONTRIBUTION IS MADE PAYABLE TO A FINANCIAL INSTITUTION DESIGNATED BY THE FEDERATION, CURRENTLY FIRSTRUST BANK. Families will be notified if the institution changes. The funds are to be mailed to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, 702 N. 22nd St., Allentown, PA 18104.
Each savings partnership will establish a separate savings account for each child, titled to the partnership. Forms 1099 indicating interest earned on the account will be sent by the bank to families at their home addresses. Family payments toward the partnership savings plan are not tax-deductible.
Family payments to the partnership may be made by persons other than the parents (grandparents, friends, etc.). However, the initial enrollment and participation agreement must be signed by the parent/guardians. All checks sent to the Federation for this partnership must indicate the child’s name.
Families may contribute any amount in excess of $300, particularly when bar/bat mitzvah gifts are designated for this partnership. However, any amount contributed in a fiscal year is credited only to that fiscal year for purposes of the match.
Students can take their trip to Israel anytime between the conclusion of the 9th grade and age 25. The VISIT Israel Savings Partnership is designed to fund Israel programs that emphasize Jewish learning or living experiences for a period of at least four weeks in Israel. There are over 75 programs recognized by national, local or regional Jewish organizations, such as High School in Israel, United Synagogue Youth, BBYO, Young Judea, etc. The Federation has final determination as to whether a program is appropriate. The Federation has information on approved programs for families to review.
The Federation encourages participants to spend a day in Yoav, our Partnership2Gether region, while they are in Israel. Students may be required to attend meetings sponsored by the VISIT Israel Savings Partnership program before and after their trip to Israel, and upon their return, may be called upon to talk about their experiences.
All participants will be notified as modifications are made to the program. THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE THE VISIT SAVINGS PARTNERSHIP AFTER EACH ANNUAL REVIEW. If the program is discontinued, families will receive refunds of their deposited funds plus accrued interest.