The Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy is a religious Zionist school. It has been in existence for over 64 years and had never had an official school-sponsored trip to Israel. Until this year.
After months of planning, and a generous grant from the Falic family, 32 high school sophomores and juniors embarked on the first-ever Hebrew Academy High School trip to Israel. Ten days of climbing, swimming, learning, davening, digging (and some sleeping) took the kids from Masada, Ein Gedi and Yam HaMelach to Gush Etzion, Hebron, Efrat and, of course, Jerusalem.
For a third of the group, it was their first time in Israel. As sophomore Kevin Abadi tells it, “I was able to see many historical and spiritual sites and have them explained to me. I was able to connect them all and achieve far greater comprehension of Israel’s history than before. This trip was as much fun as it was educational.”
The trip, which started at Independence Hall in Tel Aviv and concluded with a Shabbat in Yerushalayim, coincided with Yom Ha’zikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut. The students were able to experience and feel, firsthand, a roller coaster of emotions over that 48-hour period. As 16-year old Jordana Rotenberg recalls, “The fact that we were able to stand in the same place where Israel was declared a state sent shivers down my spine. It was amazing to look around and see all my friends listening as the guide was telling us the exact words that made this state possible.”
“V’shavu vanim l’gvulam” (“and the children returned to their borders”) was selected as the theme of the trip and will become an annual part of the school’s high school curriculum. As a participant summed it up, “It was an amazing opportunity that I guarantee no one will ever forget. It was really life changing.”