Be’chol Lashon Travel
Creating global connections, building Jewish identity
Be’chol Lashon Travel provides experiences with global Jewish communities that reinforce inclusion, diversity and connection as hallmarks of Judaism, instilling Jewish pride and teaching cultural competence in an increasingly global world. Building on deep relationships with diverse Jewish community leaders around the world, Be’chol Lashon Travel ensures a warm welcome and unparalleled opportunities for service learning, tikkun olam and lifelong connections.
Alternative Spring Break
Be’chol Lashon’s Alternative Spring Break program designs experiential opportunities that engage young Jews in an exciting expansive vision of Jewish life. We offer trips to Latin America, Africa and beyond — combining adventure, community service, diverse Jewish cultures, life-long friends and tons of fun!
Be’chol Lashon offers Jewish and non-Jewish students the unique opportunity to visit, learn about and interact with Jewish communities in Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Uganda and other exciting locations. In addition to appreciating the local culture and natural beauty, the trips are designed to strengthen Jewish identity for both the students and the host communities. Be’chol Lashon works closely with Hillels and partners on the ground to develop travel options that provide engagement with the local community, immersive cultural experiences, and diversions tailored to your group’s interests.
Latin America has a rich, and often secret Jewish history. Driven from Europe by the Inquisition, Jews hid or abandoned their Jewish heritage as the Spanish Inquisition extended its reach across the Atlantic. The first Jews to arrive in the New World are deeply embedded into the geography and culture of Latin America. Today, as the religious monopoly of the Catholic Church crumbles, Judaism is experiencing unprecedented interest, growth and change.
As forgotten family histories are being uncovered by Anusim (descendants of forced converts from the Inquisition), newly converted communities are popping up across the region. There is perhaps no better setting for American Jewish students to have an exciting, challenging and transformative Jewish travel experience, while simultaneously taking in all that the region has to offer.
Colombia has the distinction of having one of the most diverse topographies, with shores on both the Pacific and Caribbean that climb deep into the Andes mountains. A rapidly modernizing country, Colombia has a long and varied history, from its diverse ancient civilizations to Spanish colonization to the modern struggle for political stability. Colombia’s Carribbean coast—Barranquilla, Cartagena and Santa Marta—was the landing spot for the first waves of Jews to arrive in the New World. Be’chol Lashon’s Rabbi Juan Mejia was born and raised in Bogota to an Anusim family and today works a wide array of Jewish communities in Colombia, both established and emerging.
Once part of Greater Colombia during the days of Spanish colonization, Panama boasts one of the most centralized and affiliated Jewish communities in Latin America. There is a strong Jewish presence with several day schools and nearly a dozen kosher restaurants. In addition to the extraordinary natural beauty of Panama and its ample opportunities for fun, students will have the opportunity get learn about and engage in meaningful projects that serve both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities.
Costa Rica is known for its ecological beauty and as a safe tropical travel destination. It is all of those things, but it is also a mixing pot of Jews who are building Jewish community in Paradise. The capital city of San Jose is home to the organized Jewish community, including both Orthodox and conservative/reform congregations. But across the country, expat Jews from Israel and North America are mingling with Latin American Jews on the beaches and in the jungles of Costa Rica, establishing meditations retreats, havurahs and Jewish community in the context of extreme natural beauty. Where else can you learn the Torah and how to surf from a rabbi?
Known as the “Pearl of Africa,” Uganda is home to the Abayudaya Jewish community. Learn about the history of the Abayudaya and current community development efforts in Mbale, Nabugoye and other Abayudaya villages. Visit community founder Semei Kakungulu’s home, hike to the stunning Sipi Falls, shop in Mbale’s bustling market, and spend Shabbat with the community at the new Stern Synagogue. [View sample trip itinerary.]