Yeshiva University announced this week that 20 outstanding tenth graders from the Yeshiva University high schools – 10 from the Yeshiva University High School for Boys/Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy (YUHSB) and 10 from the Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls (YUHSG) – will be participating in a unique six-week student exchange program with Israeli high schools.
Now in its second year, the program aims to immerse the American students in Israeli culture and help them connect with their Israeli counterparts.
The YUHSG students, who arrived in Israel on December 6, have already joined their peers at Ulpanat Tzvia in Ma'aleh Adumim, while the YUHSB students will begin classes at Yeshivat Mekor Haim in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion upon their December 17 arrival.
“What’s unique about this program is that the students are fully-integrated into the Israeli classrooms,” said Tova Rosenberg, coordinator of the exchange program and Director of Hebrew Language Studies at both Yeshiva University high schools. “The students sit in on all Judaic studies classes, are included in all school activities, and are housed in the same dormitories as the Israeli students. They are not treated as guests, but as members of the student body.”
The Yeshiva University high school students will also take part in a series of field trips intended to show them Israel’s out-of-the-way treasures – “not the usual tourist spots” – and will enjoy special Shabbat programs at the Yeshiva University Gruss Kollel in Bayit Ve’Gan arranged by the Kollel families themselves.
'Next generation of emissaries'
Later this year, six Yeshivat Mekor Haim students and four Ulpanat Tzvia students will travel to New York to study at the Yeshiva University high schools for a six-week period. In addition to attending classes, the Israeli students will tour New York City and Philadelphia to learn about American history and culture, and will experience life in US Jewish communities.
“By sending our students to Israel and bringing the Israeli students to our schools, we are opening the eyes of every student involved in the program to the reality of the ‘Global Jewish Community.’ As our future Jewish leaders, it is vital that they understand and are accepting of other cultures,” added Rosenberg.
“The culture of deep spiritual purpose and constant reflection that is the hallmark of the Mekor Haim experience has exposed our students to serious religious and intellectual growth in ways unimagined for the typical tenth grader,” said Rabbi Mark Gottlieb, head of school at YUHSB.
“Additionally, the visiting Mekor Haim students inject a sense of passion, urgency and authenticity into the rhythm of school life here. Armed with a newfound understanding of the American Jewish scene, these exceptional students have the potential to become the next generation of shlichim (emissaries to Israel),” said the rabbi.