Reform Jewish Community
Much of the joy of exploring ancient and modern Israel is in sharing this experience with peers from Reform communities across North America. This special group of Reform Jewish teens creates a dynamic Jewish community which becomes essential in discovering new ways of identifying Jewishly. Students struggle with new and interesting challenges that arise through learning and exploring their own Jewish identity.
The celebration of Shabbat, holidays, and special events of the Jewish calendar enhances the sense of togetherness and highlights the value of Jewish life in the Jewish homeland. Taking time to stop, think, feel, and be thankful through daily tefillah (prayer) contributes to the growth of the individual and the kehillah (community). It is intended that the unparalleled experience that URJ Heller High (formerly NFTY-EIE) has to offer will encourage active involvement in congregational synagogue and Jewish life for years to come.
Reform Jewish Studies
The program is well grounded in Reform ideology, belief, and practice. Throughout the semester, students participate in workshops and study about the history, philosophy, and ideology of Reform Judaism. Jewish holidays and festivals are examined and celebrated from a liberal perspective. Issues of social justice in Israel are investigated. Students meet with prominent Reform rabbis and community leaders and visit significant sights of Reform Judaism in Israel.
Heller High participants interact with North American and Israeli students studying to be Reform rabbis, cantors, and educators. This adds additional opportunities for spiritual and leadership growth during the experience. Students contribute to building a strong Reform Jewish community on the Kibbutz. Religious observance is incorporated into daily life through spiritual development, rituals and social action projects. Tefilla (prayer) is a gateway to spiritual growth and as such there is a daily tefillah experience at Heller High with a NFTY style service. Services are usually student-led and serve as an opportunity for students to take initiative and be creative. Birkat Hamazon is recited after meals. Shabbat services on the campus of Kibbutz Tzuba or at various movement synagogues allow students to experience the unique Shabbat atmosphere in Jerusalem and throughout the country. Jewish holidays and festivals are celebrated as part of the Reform community on campus or with the students at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. Each semester students will have the opportunity to celebrate one Jewish holiday with carefully selected Israeli families, always under Heller High's stringent security guidelines.