By Gail and Steve Karp (Parents)
After coming home from Camp Newman a few summers ago our son Jake announced his desire to spend a semester of his sophomore year studying in Israel. We were reluctant at first to have him gone so long and equally concerned about the transition at this time in his education, but through the seamless effort of the program coordinators his dream became a reality this spring.
Jake is currently living outside of Jerusalem in Kibbutz Tzuba attending the EIE High School in Israel program along side of 82 other young adults living “Jewishly” 24/7. The EIE program has been an incredible growth experience for Jake in so many ways. He has never been happier learning the importance of how to be self- sufficient and responsible in his daily life. He has learned independence in his studying and has a jump start on what his college life will entail. He has taken complete responsibility for his own academics. All are taught in small classroom settings with concerned and knowledgeable teachers boosting his confidence and assurance of success.
But, the classroom extends ways past Kibbutz Tzuba. It extends throughout the entire State of Israel and into Poland. This experience is like nothing else Jake has ever had in his lifetime. His spirituality and level of maturity has escalated to a level one could only dream for their child to achieve. His ability to love a country he his learned about since early childhood has come to fruition as his understanding of the importance of the State of Israel comes home with him never so proud to be a Jew.
The admissions staff, the faculty and the madrichiem [counselors] have made an incredibly safe environment for our son to thrive. They go the extra mile communicating to parents and in our case when Jake had a medical issue held our hand, as well as Jake’s, getting through our issue as if it were only a bump in the road.
We realized this time in Israel would impact Jake, but what we had no idea was how this would impact our entire family. Visiting in March on the Parent Pilgrimage trip we spent 10 days at Kibbutz Tzuba as we “tagged’ along on our son’s daily activities. Travelling throughout Israel on “tiyuls” taught by his Jewish History teacher, we travelled on buses with other wonderful families of EIE students to the exact locations our students were learning about in class. This was an indescribable experience for us all. Our younger son was also with us making this a family trip we will have in our memories forever.
We are excited to see Jake when he returns in a few weeks. Although we are anxiously counting the days until he comes home, we know he is counting how many days he has left being in Israel on the journey of a lifetime with the group who have now become his friends forever.