Paul Reichenbach is the Director of Camping and Israel Programs for the Union for Reform Judaism.
In spite of the incredible snowstorm that brought transportation to a standstill last weekend, I am thrilled to share that the Spring 2016 semester of the NFTY-EIE High School in Israel commenced this week. Although the storm delayed some of our students’ arrival to Israel, I am happy that all of them are now safely in Israel, tired, but incredibly excited for their journey to begin. They will meet their staff and teachers and begin to settle into Kibbutz Tzuba, their home for the next four months in the Judean Hills near Jerusalem, all under the inspired supervision of our new EIE Principal, Rabbi Loren Sykes, and his exceptional team.
63 outstanding young people will have a challenging and rewarding semester living and learning in Israel. They will immerse themselves in Jewish history and culture, spend time learning and speaking Hebrew, and grow their independence and personal Jewish identity. They will form a tight community and develop friendships for a lifetime. They will develop deep connections to Israel and the Jewish people while engaging with Reform/Progressive Judaism in Israel.
As a program accredited by the Middle States Academic Association, EIE ensures that our students excel in Hebrew and Jewish Studies, but also all the classes required by their high schools back home. Our students will also rigorously study for standardized tests, so they can be prepared for the next steps in their lives.
These 63 students come from 16 states plus Canada and the District of Columbia. They include:
- 17 from California, nine from New Jersey, six from Massachusetts, five from Ontario, two from Texas and Georgia, and one from Arizona and Wisconsin.
- 39 kids attend NFTY events, and twenty of them say they hold a local or regional board position.
- 38 are alumni of URJ camps, including 14 from Camp Newman, seven from OSRUI, six from Camp George, five from Camp Harlam, three from Greene Family Camp, and one from Eisner Camp, Kutz Camp, Camp Coleman, and 6 Points Sports Academy in North Carolina
- One child with a parent who participated on EIE over 35 years ago!
- 41 URJ congregations from across North America have a student on EIE.
EIE is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and our blog is regularly updated. Here you can see pictures about what our students will accomplish during their months in Israel and read words about their amazing experience.
Since 1961, thousands of teenagers have spent a semester in Israel on NFTY-EIE, the Reform Movement’s most intense and powerful Jewish living and learning experience. EIE is currently accepting applications for the Summer 2016, Fall 2016, and Spring 2017 sessions. We are thrilled to already have 15 students registered for Fall 2016, more than twice the number compared to this time last year for Fall 2015, and we look forward to seeing many more.
Know of a teenager in grades 9-11 who is interested in NFTY-EIE? Please contact Jacob Markey, EIE’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-650-4095. He will help answer any questions you have about the program. Please also share EIE with your friends, family, and clergy and staff at your synagogue.
With warm best wishes and lots of gratitude,