Israeli Teens Enjoy Stateside Visit Through JCCNNJ’s Open Hearts Open Homes

Celebrating its 20th year this summer, Open Hearts Open Homes warmly welcomed twenty-two Israeli teens and two Israeli counselors for a two-and-a-half-week visit to NJ in July.

This unique program supports Israeli teens who have suffered trauma as a result of the ongoing terror in Israel. It was started by the JCC of Northern NJ to create an opportunity for area Jews to deepen their relationship with Israel by connecting directly with Israeli teens.  Funded entirely through the generosity of private donors, teens stay in the homes of host families while enjoying scheduled activities and day trips enabling them to experience life without the daily threat of violence. 

The program has hosted over 600 teens in its twenty years, positively impacting some participants so profoundly it has literally changed the path their lives would otherwise have taken. For the host families, the experience is equally special. Bonds formed during this short visit between host and teen are meaningful and for many are the beginning of lifelong relationships. 

For more information, to get involved, or to make a gift to Open Hearts Open Homes, visit,  email Elana Prezant at or call (201)666-6610.

Photo Caption: During their two-and-a-half-week visit, Israeli teens from the JCC of Northern NJ’s Open Hearts Open Homes program toured the Mahwah Environmental Volunteer Organization’s Fresh Roots Farm and learned about the differences between vegetables native to NJ compared with those they are most familiar with in Israel.

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