rabbi dov lipman.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Last week, former MK Dov Lipman offered his opinion (“Birthright for high school: A plan to save North American Jewry,” July 13, 2017, The Jerusalem Post) outlining his vision for saving North American Jewry. His claim that “an educational trip for Jewish youth in 11th and 12th grades” is the answer to a growing decline in the connection American Jewish children feel toward Israel and his description of a curriculum and atmosphere “in which students develop a stronger connection to Israel and their Judaism as preparation for the college experience, while also learning about the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict,” is one that we can agree on – because we are delivering it, and have been for some 45 years.
Alexander Muss High School in Israel-Jewish National Fund concur with Lipman’s hypothesis that today’s high school students are the key to ensuring our future, and that’s why we’ve concentrated on and seen remarkable success in building a strong Zionist Jewish future in the Diaspora with our study abroad programs. Our curriculum provides a high school semester abroad in Israel prior to college, and it works so well that I invite Lipman and all others who believe in the need to invest in our youth to come visit our campus to see for themselves.
Our six-week, eight-week and full semester programs have welcomed and educated 26,000 American (primarily) high school students in 10th, 11th and 12th grade since 1972, and are growing every year. Our program includes general studies, accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and Israel studies – 4,000 years of Jewish and Israeli history via experiential learning, using the land as the classroom.
Most importantly, our alumni statistics prove exactly what MK Lipman is attempting to achieve.
We conducted an independent study of our alumni and found that Jewish identity, engagement and a commitment to supporting Israel are increased among those who attended Alexander Muss High School in Israel: 88% have a Jewish spouse; 65% participate in Jewish/Zionist organizations; 63% are members of a synagogue; 80% donate to Jewish charities.
In addition to our core programming, we partner with Jewish day schools and communal organizations across the globe as a service provider offering custom programs. It is no surprise to me that the two Jewish day schools MK Lipman mentions, GANN Academy and The Weber School, reflect a commitment to his perspective. Both have been our partners. They, and over 1,500 students each year, experience our work and through their students’ experiences and educational performances, and have seen the positive results first-hand.
For the past four years Alexander Muss High School in Israel has been part of Jewish National Fund-USA and a key element in what we refer to as the “Israel Continuum.” We provide a series of curriculum, programming and training to create advocates for Israel that begins in early childhood with programs like “Blue Box Bob” and Tu Bishvat curriculum/ celebrations, extends through university campus life with our Positively Israel programs, JNF Campus Fellows and Alternative Break trips, and into adulthood with JNFuture and our many affinity groups.
Time spent at Alexander Muss High School in Israel prepares our students for university life in many ways. Students learn to take personal responsibility for their academic performance, develop new levels of maturity by living on our campus in a dorm setting, and learn how to advocate for Israel in preparation for life on college campuses. Our curriculum guides students through history so that they experience and internalize information, which helps them bring this transformative experience and wealth of knowledge with them to college and life beyond.
MK Lipman, we are on the same team and need your support for all who care about our future. We invite you to come visit us on campus, to see, hear and learn about what is happening in Israel that is changing world Jewry.