As the school year is nearing its half-way mark, students are deciding what they want to do this coming summer. Going to a school that teaches its students about Judaism and its connection to the land of Israel, many students are influenced and wish to create their own connection with Israel. Many highschoolers spend their summers on a variety of programs that guide them through this historically rich and physically beautiful country. These programs include AMHSI, Hebraica, and TJJ.
Alexander Muss High School in Israel, also known as AMHSI, is an educational, hands on approach to traversing through Israel. On this program, students learn about Israel and travel to those exact areas they learn about. For example, after learning about the events that transpired at Masada, the kids in the program actually go to Masada. “A great balance of academics and adventure, this option will take you from kayaking to volunteer opportunities to participating in a color war on campus in addition to classes in our Israel Studies department,” claims amhsi.org. AMHSI is similar to a college experience where the kids live in dorms and have classes. However, students still enjoy the freedom of exploring Hod Harashon, where AMHSI campus is located, and its neighboring city, Tel Aviv. Gabrielle Kurzer says, “I enjoyed being able to live independently on this program. Being allowed to walk around Hod Harashon on my free time and having a free weekend was so much fun.”
Hebraica’s tenth grade branch, School of Madrichim, takes kids to Israel for 4 weeks following meetings that occur twice a week throughout the year. School of Madrichim, also known as SOM spends the year teaching its students about Jewish identity and gets them involved in their community through activities and volunteering. Students in this program learn leadership skills they later use on their trip. SOM is based at the JCC and on their Israel trip, they spend their time with other JCC’s around the country. JCC Maccabi Israel states, “Our mission is to enable every young Jew currently in 10th through 12th grades to visit Israel within the framework of an organized peer group educational program, for the purpose of strengthening, developing, and enriching his or her Jewish identity and identification with the Jewish people.” When asked, a student that went on the program said, “My favorite part of the trip was Gadna. We got to train like soldiers in the IDF and sleep in tents.” This trip is a traditional Israel trip, traveling throughout the country; however Hebraica makes sure the following stays with the teens that experience this program:
- L’dor v’dor (from generation to generation): Understanding our past in order to build our future
- Kehillah (community): The importance of strengthening our Jewish community and making connections
- Mifgashim (connections): Creating meaningful dialogue between North American and Israeli teenagers
- Manhigut (leadership): Learning values and gaining skills that will help our teens become future leaders in our communities
- Ruach (spirit): Judaism and spirituality – a pluralistic approach toward our culture
- Gvanim (diversity): Explore the diversity and complexity of Israeli society and its people
- Gadna- army training
NCSY’s “The Jerusalem Journey” also known as TJJ, is yet another program with its own manner of exploring Israel. Jsu.org states, “The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey (TJJ) is a four week touring experience in Israel for public school students [students at private school are also allowed]. TJJ is an exhilarating, action-packed, transformative journey which allows participants to learn more about their Jewish heritage and culture by interfacing with the history, people, and Land of Israel.” Kids on this program get to travel around the entire country and experience all that Israel has to offer. Including: swimming in the Kineret, visiting archeological digs, floating in the Dead Sea, and much more. On the other hand, kids in TJJ get to connect to their Jewish heritage through praying at the Kotel and hiking up Masada.
All of these programs provide insight on the land of Israel that will help to shape the young minds that get to experience these trips. While they all may seem different, no matter which one a person may choose, his or her life will be impacted after witnessing the physical beauty and spiritual holiness of Israel.