Was our Israel trip different? Yes. Was it the same? In many ways, yes.
Generating an affection for and commitment to Israel, a core value of our mission, remain the same even though this year it was experienced differently. Grade 6 would not be complete without the Israel trip. As with many other milestones, COVID-19 pushed us to be flexible and creative in planning it. While we couldn't physically travel to Israel, Grade 6 students participated in an incredible virtual Israel adventure. Each day Grade 6 traveled with Elhanan, our Israeli Guide from Alexander Muss High School, to different regions and historic sites of the country. Students used virtual reality goggles to allow them a 3D experience through holy sites as if they were there from the safety of our Los Angeles campuses.
Students also got a taste of Israel as they devoured Israeli snacks and lunches daily! They met with an IDF Sergeant and even experienced some IDF training of their own with our security staff and coaches. Students made Havdalah candles and graffiti artwork inspired by Florentin. They performed Israeli dances. But they also explored different organizations in Israel committed to tzedakah. And, of course, when in Israel, you ride a real camel. So, we finished the week with a visit from Joseph the Camel. He will be remembered as a highlight of the year! While it was different, the connections made and the friendships enriched were still the same.
This experience would not have been possible without the dedication of our faculty, who remained committed to instilling a love of and appreciation for Israel even in a year when we could not physically visit. Our extraordinary faculty went above and beyond to support integrated learning in art, science, technology, dance, Hebrew, and PE to ensure our love of Israel and pride of Jewish identity remain a part of this capstone experience. Leaning on our solid Israel core classes, when the tragic unrest erupted in Israel in May, our students were better prepared and more informed to participate in engaging discussions about the conflict. We all continue to pray for Israel’s safety, security, and peace.