What exactly is URJ Heller High (Formerly NFTY-EIE)?
URJ Heller High is a fully accredited high school semester in Israel program. Our students spend four months living and learning together, immersing in the richness of the land, culture, and history of Israel. Please visit the "Our School" page for more information about our mission and vision.
Who participates in URJ Heller High (Formerly NFTY-EIE)?
Heller High accepts high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. During a typical semester we have 35% 10th graders, 55% 11th graders and 10% seniors.
What are the dates of the semesters?
The Fall Semester typically begins at the end of August and returns at the end of December. The Spring Semester typically begins at the end of January and returns at the end of May. Each of the academic semesters is about 4 months in length.
Do I need to be a member of NFTY to take part in Heller High?
While we encourage all of our participants to be active in Jewish life in learning, it is not required. For more information about joining NFTY visit the NFTY website.
Do I Need a Passport?
A US or Canadian passport is required for international travel. In accordance with TSA regulations, all participants at Heller High must have passport that is valid for 6 months after the conclusion of the program.
What is the typical semester size? What about Boys and Girls?
A typical Fall semester has approximately 25-35 students, while a Spring semester has approximately 70-80 participants. Heller High typically has 60% females and 40% males.
How much does the program cost?
You can read about the tuition and what is included in the cost on our tuition page.
Are scholarships available?
Heller High has a very generous need-based scholarship fund. Please visit our scholarship page for more information.
Who supervises Heller High?
URJ Youth strives for the highest standard of staff supervision. In Israel, Heller High is supervised by our Principal, Assistant Principal, Director of Counselors and Student Services, Counselors, Faculty and Staff. The counselor to participant ratio is 1:15. Each counselor has graduated from college and/or finished their Israeli army service.
Each person selected to serve as a Heller High staff member has extensive experience working with teens and a vast knowledge of Israel. Our staff is comprised of men and women and North Americans and Israelis, and all staff members participate in a thorough staff training orientation covering issues of education, health, safety, security, community building and adolescent issues.
What about medical care?
Participants on our Israel programs are provided with medical insurance that covers everything except pre-existing conditions. Students have access to medical facility on Kibbutz Tzuba and English-speaking doctors. There is access to medical care at all times. When visiting a doctor or hospital away from the kibbutz, participants are always accompanied by a staff member.
Can students manage/hold their own medications?
Students consult with the Principal and Director of Student Services upon arrival. We encourage students to manage their own medications, but in exceptional circumstances we hold onto them.
Are the programs safe?
Heller High is exceedingly cautious and conservative. Itineraries are reviewed on a daily basis to ensure that all groups are traveling on the safest and most appropriate routes. Heller High leaders have cell phones and are in daily communication with the Heller High office and Jewish Agency for Israel. Changes can be made on a moment’s notice. Heller High is in constant contact with security authorities in Israel on a daily basis and their representatives in Europe who are responsible for the safety of youth trips. Check our Safety and Security page for more information.
Who can parents reach during the semester?
Heller High staff in Israel are available 24 hours a day and have cell phones for immediate contact. The Heller High office in New York is open during business hours, and both email and voicemail is checked regularly.
How about food and lodging?
Heller High is based at Kibbutz Tzuba, about 15 minutes away from Jerusalem. When traveling, our accommodations are safe and appropriate for teens, and are often a higher level of accommodations than most other youth programs. Participants are provided with three complete meals a day, and a vegetarian option is always available, as 20% of our participants practice some form of vegetarianism. Every accommodation in Israel is Kosher and meals in Poland are served Kosher style (No pork or shellfish, no mixing of milk and meat).
How do I get to Israel?
For each semester, there is a group flight to Israel, which is escorted by a URJ staff member. Participants are responsible for their own domestic travel within the USA/Canada to and from Heller High's departure airport, which is either JFK Airport in New York City, or Newark Airport in New Jersey. For those flying, participants are given explicit instructions on how to transfer from their domestic arrival airport or terminal to the departure terminal for the flight to Israel. On flights to Israel and Europe, we only fly on major airlines that comply with the standard safety and security measures in Europe, Israel, and the United States. When traveling within Israel and Europe, we use privately chartered, air-conditioned coach buses. Heller High does not use public buses. Some trains may be used in Europe.
What about my valuables?
Upon arrival in Israel, passports and airplane tickets are held for safekeeping by Heller High staff. Typically, participants bring around $1,000 in spending money. Whenever possible, we recommend using debit or credit cards.
What do I need to bring to Israel?
Our URJ Heller High Student - Parent Handbook contains a packing list with all the items you'll need to bring to Israel.
Can I visit family or friends while I’m in Israel? (subject to change per COVID-19 Protocols)
At the program directors’ discretion, participants may visit with their own family members if given permission by their parents and if they are picked up and returned to Kibbutz Tzuba by the family. Generally, during your free time or free weekends, you are allowed to visit family and friends in Israel. Participants will be allowed to visit non-family members overnight only if a parental consent form has been signed before each visit. Students must tell the staff in Israel a few days in advance of planned visits, and provide them with the contact information of who you are visiting. Our staff will be in touch with your friends/family to confirm your plans. Your parents must then send their written permission (usually a quick email to our staff in Israel) letting us know that they are aware of and approve of your visit. Friends or family who come to Kibbutz Tzuba to pick up students must be at least 25 years old. Students are allowed to take inter-city buses with the approval and coordination of the staff. We can also make arrangements for an approved private taxi to drive students, at their own expense. Heller High safety and security protocols are always in place while you visit others in Israel.
How do I get a transcript back to my home high school at the end of the semester?
Within 10 days of your return from Israel, Heller High will send two envelopes to your home address. Each envelope will contain a signed official transcript with the Middle States seal, a letter confirming community service hours performed with a brief description of the tasks, and the URJ Heller High School in Israel School Profile. One transcript envelope is for your records and one copy is for your school. Please hand deliver one copy of your transcript to the proper school official to ensure its receipt.
I am an EIE/Heller High alum applying to college. How do I request EIE/Heller High transcripts?
You can find all the information about requesting transcripts in our Alumni Section.
Does my child need to be immunized?
Yes, the Union for Reform Judaism requires that all camp and travel program participants, staff and faculty must be immunized. For more information, read the URJ Policy Statement on Vaccine Status.
Don't see your answer here?
Download a copy of the Student and Parent Handbook that has everything you need to know about the semester, or call our office at 212-650-4073 to speak with a member of our team.