Minneapolis Couple Gives $100,000 to Scholarships for Teens to Study in Israel

By: Rochelle Newman Rubinoff



Amy and Stan Baratz are givers. They give of their time, their energy—and most recently, a generous $100,000 donation to Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) to help teens experience 4,000 years of Jewish history at  Alexander Muss High School in Israel (Muss).


Themselves parents to children who attended Alexander Muss High School in Israel, the Baratzes know firsthand the lifelong impact of the program and are committed to making it accessible to more teens nationwide through scholarship-based tuition support. “High School in Israel provides incredible ways for young people to learn about Judaism.” Said Stan, “It’s a great way for young people to experience Israel and we’re hoping to open up that opportunity for teens who maybe can’t quite afford the full cost of a semester or a summer abroad experience.”


Sharing a love for Israel and a strong Jewish identity is deeply embedded in the Baratz family. In fact, Stan and Amy are continuing a connection to JNF-USA that goes back to Stan’s grandparents. Maurice and Ida Baratz were early donors to the organization and donated a grove of 1,000 trees to the John F. Kennedy Forest in Israel in 1970. Stan’s parents, Zollie z”l and Shirley, age 96, were also very active in the Jewish community and his father was president of JNF-USA in the Twin Cities. “We were always planting trees and forests,” Stan said. “So, I sort of grew up in it; my family was always active in Jewish life.”


For Amy, it’s also about opening up high-quality education opportunities to more teens because of the impression the program made on their children, “It was fabulous. They had a wonderful experience. They loved the teachers, the way they were taught, and the kids they met from other cities, many of whom they’ve remained friends with. Amy also pointed out that the fact that her children received both high school and college credits for the classes they took at Muss was an advantage when they returned to the U.S. and when they attended college.


As a Minneapolis resident and the Director of Admissions in the Twin Cities for Muss for over 20 years, Penny Ziessman explained that the Baratz’s commitment to Israel Education is truly a gift. She emphasized that there is no substitute for a young teen spending a month or more in Israel to connect them to their identity and history. Describing the importance of the program, she said, “They learn about a period of Israel's history one day and the next day they go to that site. It’s a hands-on program and it’s academic. It’s a way for them to connect to the land. How can you know a place from a textbook? You can’t! It’sabout walking in Jerusalem and feeling that feeling.”


Stan and Amy’s children are now adults with families of their own and have already begun to carry on the family legacy of contributing to a strong Jewish community. Thanks to their gift, more families can begin or continue their own multi-generation connection to the land and people of Israel.


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