*Note: This article was written when URJ Heller High was known as NFTY – EIE High School in Israel.
By Sherrill Neff and Alicia Felton, parents of Fall 2012 alum Jonathan “Skippy” Neff
The impact of the NFTY- EIE High School in Israel program on our son Jonathan was enormous.
His single biggest benefit from the program was the ability to establish a mature adult identity away from home. He learned how to rely on himself in ways that we couldn’t imagine, and was able to truly understand who he is in a larger world.
It was amazing for him to be part of a small, friendly community like EIE. He truly thrived in the Kibbutz Tzuba setting, both academically and socially, when compared to the large impersonal suburban high school he came from.
His love for Israel has become incorporated into his core. When he returned home, he found ways to continue accelerating his Hebrew language skills. He has been more involved than ever in NFTY, his TYG and other Jewish- oriented organizations. He probably will be returning to Israel for his undergraduate education when he graduates from high school this year.
We found that EIE is viewed very positively in the college admissions process as colleges know that he has already lived independently and can handle being away from home, and also that he is an explorer at heart.
As a family, we could not be more pleased with the many gifts that EIE has given Jonathan – and us as a Reform Jewish family.