15 Students and Parents Tell Us About the Fall Semester

Being here on this program has been the best experience of my life, and the lessons I have learned here will be ones I carry with me throughout the rest of my life. I have learned independence, time management, self-advocacy, confidence, endurance, and more. The education I’ve received about Israel has made me feel even more connected to my Jewish identity.


Raina, Pennsylvania, Fall 2018

The Fall semester of URJ Heller High presents an incredible, unique opportunity for Jewish high school students. The intimate group of 25-30 students becomes like family as they immerse in the land, culture, and history of Israel together. Read on to hear from Fall alumni and parents about what this experience meant to them, how it changed them, and what they took away from four months of living and learning in Israel.

On Jewish Identity

“Back home, I always thought I had a pretty solid Jewish identity, but coming to Israel shook my ideas, and gave me a new perspective on what I thought I knew about myself, and about my Judaism. I feel a new connection with the people of Israel and the Jewish People as a whole. I know this will not be the last time I visit Israel.” – Justin, New Jersey, Fall 2018

“Being on this program has connected me with Judaism in a new way. I have forged a deeper connection with Judaism as a way of life and a people rather than just as a religion. By learning the language and about my ancestors, I feel less like an observer and more like someone who is part of the living, breathing history.” –Briahn, Colorado, Fall 2018

“Before this trip, I had to work really hard to be Jewish, I go to a medium sized high school with only 4 Jews in my grade. There isn’t a synagogue in my town. It was a huge struggle because though I had a strong personal identity, I did not necessarily have a strong Jewish one.  Now I have a strong Jewish identity; one that I am proud of.” – Rebecca, Massachusetts, Fall 2017



On Personal Growth

“I learned lessons that will help me the rest of my life. I grew as a person over my time in Israel and gained so many skills. Before this trip, I never knew I could have such a desire to learn, and this new motivation has led me to have had the most enriching time of my life.” – Cecilia, Colorado, Fall 2018

“Being in Israel has opened doors for me, and taught me how to be a better thinker, student, and leader.” Skylar, Australia, Fall 2016

“This trip has benefited me in so many ways. I have grown so much mentally and
physically. I feel like a completely different person than I was when I got on that plane in New York in August.” – Ally, California, Fall 2018



On Community

“Coming on URJ Heller High has changed my life. I have found this magical community that will forever change who I am and who I aspire to be.” – Annabella, California, Fall 2017

“My class (including my teacher) has become a tight-knit group where everyone’s voice is heard. We have meaningful discussions about everything from the Tanakh to the Green Line.” – Benji, New York, Fall 2018

“Being here has given me the chance to make friends that I never would have met
without Heller High. I now have close friendships with people from all across the United States. Through experiences like Sea to Sea, the Poland trip, climbing Masada, and more, we’ve created bonds unlike any other.” – Cyle, Indiana, Fall 2018

“Everyone in the program connected immediately as friends, but we will leave as a family.” – Hayden, Arizona, Fall 2018



What Their Parents Said

“What a joy it’s been to welcome our daughter home and to soak up the many learnings, in-sights and stories she’s shared. My husband and I are so grateful for this experience and can’t imagine a more thoughtful, learned, and caring group of leaders than the Heller High team.” – Betsy, mother of a Fall 2018 student

“Our kids have returned to us as different people. I see this amazing, confident, more mature, independent, world-savvy kid now.” – Elena, mother of a Fall 2017 student

“I know my daughter has grown in intellect, maturity and spirituality. She comes home with deep connection to Israel and with fellow Jews across the country.” –Bill, father of a Fall 2016 student 

“They will carry the teachings, experiences and travels of the past semester for a lifetime. It is a milestone in their life that has changed each of them in so many positive ways. I wanted my son to feel a deeper connection to his faith, Jewish identity, peers, tribe and humanity. This program has given them that foundation.” – Maura, mother of a Fall 2016 student


Since 1961, thousands of teenagers have spent a semester in Israel on URJ Heller High (formerly NFTY-EIE), the Reform Movement’s most intense and powerful Jewish living and learning experience. We are enrolling now for the Fall 2019 semester, with a special $1,000 discount for all students.

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