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JNF Wire: Teens Celebrate Friends, Fun and Personal Growth in Four Months at AMHSI

January 13, 2016
Adam H. Brill, Director of Communications
212-879-9305 x222
Teens Celebrate Friends, Fun and Personal Growth in Four Months at AMHSI
By: Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
AMHSI 1000 story.jpg      

48775708-3031-428a-9a64-3e3eb04d98ab.jpg“History became so real.” Those were the words of Sydney Weinger (at left), 17, of Nashville as she boarded a bus to Ben Gurion International Airport last week after spending four months in Israel at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI-JNF).

Weinger's friend and fellow program participant, Anna Koren, expressed similar sentiments. "Being able to learn about Israel, not from a book, but from actually being able to go and experience and see the sights – I wish it would have been longer," Koren said.

AMHSI-JNF is an academic and experiential program for high school students. Founded in 1972, the program is now funded and operated by Jewish National Fund (JNF). It offers formal classroom study and experience-based learning, enhancing students’ intellectual understanding of history, and emotional connection to identity.  AMHSI-JNF provides students with the context and framework to form their own sense of Jewish identity in preparation for college and life beyond.

7237e77f-f734-4c10-9e97-f3f2a599f92a.jpgKoren (at right) says she was heavily impacted by the experience. After participating in Gadna, an Israel army program, she says she think she will come back and volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). 

Weinger, on the other hand, is already considering aliyah, and making Israel her new home. She credits AMHSI-JNF for making her prouder to be Jewish and to realize what it means to have a homeland.

"I feel at home here, like I can be myself," Weinger said. "It is the place I am happiest in the world."

ccabaf62-7f46-4433-9390-8798472fd3ed.jpgWhile some of the students had been to Israel before, many others came for the first time. Lilly-Anne Nettheim (at left), 16, from Australia, had always wanted to go to Israel but didn’t know when and how it would happen. When she learned about AMHSI-JNF from her friend, she decided it was an experience she couldn’t pass up.

"I couldn’t picture what Israel would look like. I looked at photos online, but that is never the same," says Nettheim. "It is amazing! Also this experience would not have been the same without the group I was with – I just really loved it."

In a note sent to her counselors, Nettheim said: "Our entire group, they grew with us and we formed a little family. Although four months is only a short amount of time, I think we all proved that a short amount of time is not wasted. We have created some unforgettable memories I think it's really amazing how all of us got so close, so quickly."

"I have made some life-long friends," Zoe Tselos, 16, from Minnesota said, explaining that she was assigned her roommates, but she chose to hang out with them outside of their room. 

0424e84f-f6fe-4be0-8a0e-caf3ad30eb5b(1).jpg"I think I can say I am friends with every single person here, which is really nice," Tselos (at right) added. While on the one hand, she says she learned that Israel is not only the Bible, but also a vibrant state, full of life, cultural events, and all threads of Judaism, she also learned about herself. During hikes and other challenges, she said she would often complain. But as her four months was coming to a close, she realized that every moment was so special.

"Live life to the fullest, that is what I learned. On a trip like this, you should love every moment – the hiking, the food, the friends – everything," she said. 

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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.

JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.

JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.

For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit


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