By Alistair Bentley
Building meaningful connections between young Jewish Americans and Israel has never been more important than it is today.
Rising antisemitism, increased opposition to Israel on college campuses and signs that support for Israel in Congress is fraying, all highlight the need for a new generation of committed advocates for the Jewish state.
The good news is that youth education and programming can build lasting connections between young adults and the land of Israel. Notably, the Pew Research Center has found that many Jews who visit Israel at least once maintain a strong emotional attachment to the Jewish homeland.
To encourage and nurture these lifetime attachments, JNF USA has made investing in educational programs a top priority.
JNF USA’s investments in education and advocacy extend from elementary school through college. Moreover, JNF USA’s offerings are diverse, and include opportunities for young students to sponsor Israeli firefighters, participate in B’nei Mitzvah projects and study abroad. JNF USA also has lesson plans that educators can use to teach Israeli history.
The Alexander Muss High School (AMHS) in Hod Hasharon highlights how JNF USA’s investments in education are making a difference and shaping future leaders. AMHS offers students in grades 10 through 12 an opportunity to spend a full or half semester in Israel learning about the country’s history, culture, language and geology while continuing their general high school studies.
Several members of the Richmond Community have attended AMHS and underscore the powerful and lasting effects this JNF initiative can have.
Alexandra Brownstein, who will be attending Syracuse as a freshman majoring in International Relations in the fall, described her semester at AMHS as inspiring. “The land is truly your classroom. You’re literal hiking Masada as you’re listening to the lesson of the day. You’re climbing down Mount Ebal and you’re stopping mid-way to hear different stories about the ancient Israelites.”
When asked how her time at AMHS shaped her relationship with Israel, Alexandra explained that AMHS “completely solidified my belief that being Jewish is special and a privilege” and that “Israel is such a beautiful and safe place for Jews.”
When asked how Israel will be a part of her life in the future, Alexandra says she hopes to travel and study in Israel during college and “maybe one day to live there.”
Along with her 70 AMHS classmates, Alexandra will bring a passion for Israel into her college classrooms and ensure that powerful and educated voices advocating for Israel ring loud and clear. AMHS and numerous other initiatives show how JNF USA is supporting a vibrant Israel in so many ways beyond planting trees.
If you are a student, parent or educator, please consider exploring the educational opportunities JNF USA has available for you. The JNF USA website (https://www.jnf.org/) is a wonderful resource for getting started, but you can also reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for help navigating your options.
Moreover, programs like AMHS cannot exist without the generous financial support of JNF USA donors, so please consider making a contribution. Donations can be made through the JNF website (https://www.jnf.org/), or you contact email@example.com for additional details.