High School in Israel Couple Ready for Action
By JD Krebs
They say a successful marriage, among other things, relies on shared values and experiences. For Atlanta natives Brian and Tracy Seitz, their similarities include a mutual appreciation for Israel after attending Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) Alexander Muss High School in Israel (High School in Israel).
Raised in secular homes, religion and Israel were not topics of discussion for either of them. “Our parents sent us to an Episcopal Day School, so we knew the Lord’s prayer before we really knew much about our own backgrounds,” Tracy says.
But time abroad at High School in Israel forever changed their perspectives. “It was a magical experience; I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Brian says, adding that “the curriculum is second to none.”
“It’s a coming of age,” Tracy says. “I got to celebrate my 16th birthday on top of Masada!”
Tracy and friends during her semester at High School in Israel
Their time at High School in Israel was a turning point for both of them. “I was pretty much a hardcore Zionist when I got back,” Brian says, noting that he made sure to go to a university (University of Texas) that had a strong Jewish population.
“Our love of Israel was really from High School in Israel,” Tracy adds.
High School in Israel also helped bring Brian and Tracy together. While they had known each other since their childhood, they reunited at an alumni event, which led to their first date.
“We lived near each other, so we drove together, and we were like, ‘let’s grab dinner,’ and so it was kind of our first date,” Tracy says.
The Seitz’s also have a Ketubah from David Mitchell, High School in Israel’s Dean of Education and, in Brian’s words, “a legend of High School in Israel.”
Brian and Tracy signing the Ketubah from David Mitchell
They recently gave a presentation at an event honoring Mitchell, who is retiring after 35 years. Brian and Tracy speak reverently about him, with Brian calling him “a little bit of university professor and Jerry Garcia wrapped up into one.”
He added, “there are thousands and thousands of students he’s taught and had an impact on.”
Brian with David Mitchell
The Seitz’s have spent over a decade balancing their work with their philanthropic efforts. Brian works in real estate finance and serves on the board of his local Jewish Day School and his local JCC, as well as being involved with the Maccabi Games, while Tracy works as a paralegal, serves on the board of the local synagogue, and recently went a mission to Israel.
Their philanthropic support of High School in Israel is a far more recent development, but they’ve already thrown themselves into it with gusto. “If you asked us two weeks ago what our involvement was, we’d say nothing. You ask us today, I have five meetings this week,” Tracy says.
Brian adds, “it’s always been in the back of our minds to get involved with High School in Israel.”
And the timing for them is perfect, given that their daughter is getting ready to attend a High School in Israel summer program.
“We’re very excited about that,” Brian says. “I hope she gets the social experience and independence that we learned travelling in a foreign country, and I hope she makes some amazing relationships.”
While there may not be a secret formula for a successful marriage, Brian and Tracy acknowledge that their mutual appreciation of Israel that they got from High School in Israel makes them stronger as a couple. “High School in Israel gives us the shared value and shared love of advocating and loving and learning about our history.”