Jewish National Fund-USA Brings Students Home
Jewish National Fund-USA charters El Al Boeing 787 Dreamliner to fly students studying at Alexander Muss High School in Israel back to the U.S.
New York, NY – March 16, 2020: With new restrictions in Israel announced and as uncertainty surrounding the availability of international flights continues to grow, Jewish National Fund-USA immediately released $500,000 from the organization’s endowment to charter an EL AL Boeing 787 Dreamliner to bring 282 American students studying at Jewish National Fund-USA’s Alexander Muss High School (AMHSI-JNF / High School in Israel) in Hod HaSharon, Israel, back to the U.S. The students attending High School in Israel were from Maryland’s Charles E. Smith Jewish Day (JDS) and California’s Milken Community Schools. In addition, Jewish National Fund-USA made seats on the flight available to students from New York’s Ramah.
On Sunday evening, High School in Israel staff joined students and escorted them by bus to Israel’s Ben Gurion airport where chaperones accompanied students through passport control and to the plane. Once on the plane, students were accompanied by EL AL staff members. Students were greeted on arrival at JFK by Jewish National Fund-USA and High School in Israel professionals, in addition to many of the students’ parents.
The El Al flight departed on Sunday, March 15, at 11:00 pm (Israel time) and arrived into JFK’s Terminal 4 on March 16 at 5:33 am US EDT.
“We always have, and always will, prioritize the safety and wellbeing of our students,” said AMHSI-JNF Chairman of the Board, Joe Wolfson. “Although our students were having the time of their lives studying thousands of years of Jewish history in Israel, and despite the considerable cost, the decision to repatriate students was the only responsible course of action. During times of global upheaval, many things are out of our control, however, Jewish National Fund-USA will continue to be the steadying hand and steadfast partner we have always been to our affiliates in Israel and the projects we support such as High School in Israel.”
“With every challenge there are opportunities,” said AMHSI-JNF President, Ron Werner. “I am inspired by the words of High School in Israel’s Rabbi, Leor Sinai, who shared with me that it is certainly a time for cheshbon nefesh, self-reflection, as we take stock of our past and prepare for our future. Despite the current challenges, we remind ourselves that the hundreds of students we are bringing back to the U.S. will have had the most transformative experience of their lives in Israel as they join 32,000 alumni who have experienced the same ‘Muss magic’ since 1972.”
“With the health and safety of our students always being at the forefront of our minds, it became apparent that Israel was enacting stricter and stricter restrictions as they proactively try and contain COVID-19. We saw the writing on the wall and the reality that getting our kids out was rapidly becoming more and more challenging. In less than 24 hours with the magical support of Jewish National Fund-USA, we organized, chartered, and loaded close to 300 students on our El Al flight, said Werner.”
Despite the unprecedented decision to fly students back to the U.S., staff at AMHSI-JNF are planning to welcome students back for the school’s Summer semester. “Although we learn new information about the current health situation every day, we expect to proceed with programming later this year,” said Wolfson. “We will continue to follow the directives of the CDC in the U.S. and Israel’s Ministry of Health in Israel, and our decisions will continue to be guided by recommendations from the relevant health authorities as we plan for future sessions.”
“There was a sense of unity as representatives from Ramah, Jewish National Fund-USA and High School in Israel stood together to greet our students as they returned from Israel this morning,” said Ramah National Business Manager, Jeff Goodman. “The logistics of the flight and subsequent transfers have gone smoothly, for which the parents of the students were very grateful. As we saw how sad the students were as they said goodbye so much earlier than planned, we were struck by the sense of community that they had developed on Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim (TRY), and the great care and concern that they shared for one another.”
JDS High School Principal, Marc Linder, added “We are truly grateful for the leadership shown by Jewish National Fund-USA in taking decisive action to bring our students back to the U.S.”
Jewish National Fund-USA is the leading philanthropic organization for Israel that supports critical environmental and nation-building activities in Israel’s north and south. Through its One Billion Dollar Roadmap for the Next Decade, Jewish National Fund-USA is developing new communities in the Galilee and Negev, connecting the next generation to Israel, and creating infrastructure for ecology, special needs, and heritage preservation.
Prospective students and parents can visit www.AMHSI.org or call 800.327.5980 for more information on AMHSI’s 2020 summer semester.
Media inquiries: Stefan Oberman, Jewish National Fund-USA Director of Communications. E: [email protected]. P: 212.879.9305 x222