Last fall, when Melanie Goldberg was a senior at Brooklyn College, she was the recipient of a Chanukah gift package, sent to her as an alumna of the Orthodox Union’s Birthright – Israel Free Spirit (IFS) trip to Israel.
This year, in her new position as OU Alumni Associate, Melanie is supervising the effort to send more than 1,100 of these packages to fellow alumni of OU programs, including NCSY/Jewish Student Union, Heart to Heart, and the Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus, in addition to IFS. OU Alumni is part of the Orthodox Union’s NextGen Division.
The program began in 2009, and this year’s number of packages is the largest ever. The young alumni signed up on an email survey to receive the gifts. The large majority of the recipients are currently on campus; the remainder have already finished college.
Coming in either an IFS or NCSY travel bag, the packages consist of candles, Chanukah jellies, a dreidel, and a card with the Chanukah blessings. There is also a message, for example, this one to the IFS alumni:
“Although your Birthright trip has ended, your connection to Taglit-Birthright Israel and IFS has not. Our goal is to help make your college experience one of growth and fun. Please always remember to share this incredible gift with your friends and family and we highly encourage you to check up with us on Facebook and Twitter to see the latest along with the next Birthright registration period. Wishing you and your family a very happy Hanukah and hoping you enjoy your brand new travel bag! Signed: The IFS Team.”
The gift packages, which have been assembled by members of Yachad, the OU program for individuals with disabilities, will arrive prior to the holiday, which begins the night of Wednesday, November 27.
Melanie Goldberg declared, “Based on my experience, “I think it’s wonderful that OU NextGen keeps in touch with our graduates to make sure they are still connected to authentic Jewish programs throughout their college careers.”