A highly successful model for high school Israel trips

December 23, 2015 21:37
2 minute read.
Taglit Birthright

Taglit Mega event at Jerusalem's Binyanei Hauma. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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On December 22 The Jerusalem Post published an article by DePaul University law professor Steven H. Resnicoff entitled, “The need for an educational Birthright program,” calling for a free Israel advocacy course for high school students to combat growing anti-Semitism and anti-Israel activity on college campuses.

I believe that Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI) – Jewish National Fund (JNF) already answers this call.

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For the past 43 years, 24,000 alumni later, AMHSI-JNF has provided students from North America and around the world with the knowledge and tools to forge their own sense of Jewish peoplehood and connection to the land of Israel.

The heart of every session at AMHSI- JNF is a chronological, academic study of Israel and Jewish history from the early biblical period to medieval anti-Semitism to the modern Arab-Israel conflict and Israel’s future as a leader in technology.

The course also includes a journey to Poland to learn about the country’s vibrant Jewish community, the tragedy of the Holocaust and the modern reemergence of Jewish life. Students can earn up to six transferable college credits for the course.

The course uses an experiential approach to learning that combines intensive classroom study with trips to the sites where history took place. Students both master the material through exams, essays and presentations, in addition to crawling through caves with Bar Kochba, rescuing Jews at the beaches of Atlit, declaring independence with Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv and experimenting at a high-tech lab in Rehovot.

As a pluralistic program, AMHSI-JNF is open to numerous narratives. Our educators come from a variety of backgrounds and outside speakers come from different sectors of Israeli society.

Recognizing the challenges that college students face today, students are exposed to a variety of pro-Israel organizations from across the spectrum and college organizational resources.

The AMHSI-JNF program is so much more than just a history course – it is a personal and transformational journey over six, eight or 18 weeks in Israel.

For that reason, we are not a free program and nor do we believe that we should be – our students earn every moment of their time here.

We do, however, believe that every student who wishes to attend our program should be able to and we offer financial aid and scholarships to that end.

In addition, this year marked the launch of the AMHSI-JNF Impact Fund, which seeks to identify outstanding Jewish high school students and provide them with the education and tools to become the future Jewish leaders of tomorrow.

We have a highly successful model for high school Israel and Jewish education.

When our students go to college, they go to college proud and confident in their identity and prepared to face anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attacks. With all due respect to Prof. Resnicoff and to his concerns regarding what Jewish college students face on campus, AMHSI is already the answer.

The author is head of AMHSI-JNF.

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