By Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ President
We are writing to share the exciting news that the URJ Heller High school has entered into a partnership with Jewish National Fund-USA’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel (Muss). Beginning this fall, URJ Heller High will take place on the Muss campus in Hod Hashron.
Since 1961, the semester-long Heller High program has been a life changing experience for thousands of members of our Reform Jewish community. Over the last 50 years, the program has adapted and changed to meet the needs of our students and families in order to provide them with the best secular academic and Reform Jewish education. We are proud that all Heller students have had access to a high school accredited academic experience alongside dynamic Jewish education courses, trips and experiences relevant to the Reform Movement’s history and values.
Since 1972, Muss has connected thousands of Jewish teens from around the world to the land and people of Israel through its study abroad experience, teaching 4,000 years of Jewish history where it happened and providing tailor-made General Studies instruction for regular, honors, and AP classes. Like Heller High, Muss is fully accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Beginning this fall, all secular academic programs and administration will be managed by Muss’ leadership and professionals. Within the Heller High track, students will be housed together in their own dorm and celebrate Shabbat and holidays that reflect the Reform Movement’s proud tradition and values. The URJ will continue to provide leadership and direction for Heller High’s flagship Jewish History course including special trips, experiences, and meetings with leaders of the Reform Movement throughout Israel. The URJ will continue to provide scholarships and the new Israel Organizing Fellowship for the Heller participants.
This partnership presents a significant opportunity for the URJ to hone in on our focus to provide students with an unparalleled Reform Jewish educational experience that will strengthen and deepen their understanding and relationship to Israel and Judaism through a Reform lens. By joining with Muss, our students will also enjoy additional access to in-person secular academic programs that will continue to allow them to maintain the curriculum from their schools at home.
For over 50 years, our Heller High program has safeguarded its mission to provide Reform youth an opportunity to strengthen, through learning and experience, their connection to Judaism, the Jewish people, and the Jewish state. This next chapter in Heller High’s history will allow us to continue to do this important work to ensure that our future students will have the same life changing experience that thousands of others, including hundreds of leaders of the Reform Movement, have enjoyed.