Students from all over the world are able to experience summer programs that create friendships and bonds for a lifetime. A popular program is the Alexander Muss High School in Israel, known as HSI. This program has a rigorous and inspiring agenda that has transformed the lives of thousands. Once the students arrive at their destination, they begin to explore and strengthen their identity and relationship with Israel. The dorms are located in Hod HaSharon and every person has roommates from all over the world. The faculty members are experts in culture, history, politics, and language and they reflect the diversity of Israeli society. Students will explore their newfound independence being that they are now living alone while creating lifelong friendships as they continue on their journeys.
The course of HSI studies the last 4,000 years of Israeli history. Each student will take part in an Israel Studies/Jewish History class, where they will be able to travel to the many destinations that they learn of. There are four dorms on the entire campus: Friedman, Muss, Rappaport, and Wohl. Each dorm has been recently renovated and each has its own common room. This common room is used to hang out and also has a microwave and refrigerator. The campus holds many other facilities like a library, music room, dining hall, health clinic, basketball court, gym, and running track. Every “school day”, the students are given free time where they are able to hang out with friends in the common room or go out into town. Once a week, the students are able to have their laundry done and it is usually returned on Thursdays or Fridays. Each student is required to take part in a type of “community service”. This may range from helping to clean the dining hall to helping out during field trips. Part of the week is spent on campus while the other part of the week is spent on field trips. On a class day, students will most likely wake up around 6:45 AM. On a field trip day, students wake up around 5:45 AM. Every single day, curfew is set at 11:00 PM.
After speaking with an alumni from HSI, I have gathered information about what a day looks like and what events are most remembered. The alumni is Maya Sananes, a senior at Scheck Hillel Community School. When asked what a day looks like in HSI, Maya says, “Most days, we would wake up and have breakfast. Then we would have class and then go on a trip about the place that we just learned. After the trip, we had free time around the town to shop, eat, and explore. Then we would come back to the campus, hang out and have dinner.” Maya’s favorite part about the whole trip was having the ability to explore Israel. “Israel is my favorite place in the world and I really enjoyed getting to visit places I had never seen before.” Students aren’t able to go to the dorm with their friends because one of the many aspects of HSI is that kids meet and build friendships with new people. Because of this, I asked Maya if it was awkward to not know the people that she shared a room with. “I knew one of my roommates but I didn’t know the other two. After a day of being there, we all became best friends.” Maya says that she built friendships with everyone in her dorm and they are still her best friends. During HSI, students take part in classes to learn about Israel’s history. When asked if the learning was similar to the Judaic classes that are held at Scheck Hillel, and if they aren’t, to please elaborate on their differences, Maya replied, “The learning was honestly very interesting. We learned things about Israel that were never taught to us in any Israel education class at Hillel. It was challenging at first to have tests and learn during the summer break but it was so worth it.” HSI is an amazing trip and will not only teach the students about Israel and its culture, but will also give them a summer that they will never forget.