AMHSI offers 6 week summer programs, 8 week and semester long programs during the year for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors.  

As part of a campaign to increase awareness about high school study abroad programs in Israel, we interviewed Stephen Muss, Chairperson of the Board.  Stephen is a Miami real estate developer and active philanthropist and supporter of Jewish education.  In addition to serving as chairperson of the AMHSI board, Stephen Muss is the honorary chair of Lapid, the Coalition for High School Age programs in Israel.  We recently caught up with Stephen to ask him a little bit about the school, the programs, and what has changed in the past 40 years since the AMHSI was founded.

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We’ve seen a lot of college programs throughout the years, but not so many high school programs – why did you choose to focus on high schools?

Well I think that is where everyone is wrong, and not only that, I think more and more institutions should recognize that the younger generation is who we need to focus on in the future – because let's face it, they are the future.  When these young and impressionable high school kids come to Israel, whether for 6 weeks, 8 weeks or 18, they get something different that is unique to their young age.  By instilling in high school students a love for Israel and a deep and meaningful understanding of the Jewish history and faith, we are in fact helping shape their lives for years to come.  After high school our participants consider colleges, dating, marriage, extracurricular activities and even career choices – and what they learned in Israel about their culture, their history, and their heritage goes with them every step of the way and helps guide their lives. This happens because we teach them this love for Israel and for Judaism when they are still young and seeking their identity.

Tell us a little about the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program:

In addition to being over 40 years old and having an alumni base of over 20,000 – including people you may have heard of such as the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, Wayne Firestone, the President of Hillel, and Matisyahu, the international reggae sensation - we are the only non-denominational program for teenagers in Israel. Our programs are unique because students learn about Jewish history in a non-religious setting focusing only on the true history of the Jewish people. Our main methodology is experiential learning, meaning that when students learn about the battle of King Saul and the Philistines, they go to the location of the battle with their notebooks in hand and have the class lecture there. When they learn about the declaration of Israel, they have class in the same room where Ben Gurion sat. This type of learning ensures that participants remember the history of the Jewish people long after they left the school. Of course in addition to learning about the history of the Jewish people, our participants stay completely up to date on the material from their homeschools through the help of the dedicated and experienced General Studies staff which works with each student on an individual basis to ensure they stay up to date on their non-core class material. But don't get me wrong, even though they study a lot, the participants on our programs have so much fun, they sometimes forget how much they are learning!

What is new at AMHSI?

When we started AMHSI, we offered only 8 week programs for small groups during the academic school year.   After many years, we included summer sessions which have no general studies but rather focus solely on the history of Israel and the Jewish people.  This year, we are opening an 18 week semester program available for all high school sophomores, juniors and seniors worldwide.  With the changing times, we realized that we must adapt to suit out participants, so we created this new program, which is located in the Negev as is our second campus out of the five we are planning, to ensure that we can offer every type of student something that works for them. Want to come during the summer – we have something for you! Want to spend a short time away from home – come for a mini-semester! Want to really dig into the land and learn about Israel – spend a full semester! Whatever our participants want, there is a program that will suit their needs. On top of it all, we now offer eligible students up to 6 college credits from the University of Miami George Feldenkreis Program in Judaic Studies. 

Tell me more about the semester program

We built a brand new state of the art campus in the Negev. This upcoming fall is going to be the first full semester program.  It includes a one week trip to Poland, a 4 day sea to sea hike (from the Mediterranean to the Galilee!) and a week of basic army training to see what it's like to be a soldier of the Israeli Defense Force!   The AMHSI dorms in Eshel HaNassi are brand new, with spacious air conditioned rooms (each room has its own study area and private amenities such as kitchenette, bathroom and shower), and there are courtyards in and around the dorm building that overlook the sprawling desert. The campus is located only 10 miles from Beer Sheva – the capital of the Negev, and it is more than just a school; It is a full and thriving community where the entire faculty and support staff lives on the campus.  There is also a student-run farm and radio station where students will be able to work with the animals and broadcast their experiences to their parents.  And the best perk – there is a swimming pool on campus!

What else is unique to the Semester Program?

Well for starters, when participants learn about the holocaust, they are going to do so in Poland!  Also, they are going to have a much stronger connection to Israel, whether it be because they take ulpan classes, participate in mock army training (Gadna) or during a 4 day hike from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Galilee (Yam Le Yam). Did I mention that the campus is brand new?

These programs sound great but aren't they expensive?

The cost of the programs vary with the semester program being just under $14,000, which I know is a lot of money, but when you look at the value, it's not only inexpensive, but it is completely worth it.  On top of it all, we offer financial aid assistance for qualified participants, and the cost includes the accommodation and food for the full program, with the week in Poland, the army experience, and hike also included for the semester program.  In addition to offering need-based and merit-based scholarships, we have program advisors across the United States with strong ties to their local Federations. Our Program Advisors work with students to secure additional funds from local congregations and organizations. Students should not hesitate applying because of the cost – we will do our best to help each student secure all funds to attend one of our amazing programs.

Well thank you for your time Stephen!

Thank you! Spread the word!

For more information about the Alexander Muss High School in Israel programs, visit

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