High School in Israel Founded by Miami Rabbi to Celebrate 50th Anniversary at Local Gala
AVENTURA, Fla., October 3, 2022 — Ninety-three percent of alumni from Jewish National Fund-USA’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel (Muss), which was founded by local beloved Rabbi Morris Kipper of blessed memory in 1972, have rated the school among the three most influential Jewish educational experiences of their lives. Since its inception, Muss has transformed 35,000 high school students, including 10,000 from the South Florida region, into powerful advocates for the land and people of Israel and into leaders of Jewish communities nationwide.
“Rabbi Kipper’s vision of the High School in Israel program was to connect Jewish students to the land of Israel and the journey of the Jewish People,” said Dr. Lenore C. Kipper. “Using an innovative approach that combined serious study and experiential learning, he believed that this program would strengthen Jewish identity at a crucial time in the lives of young people and inculcate a commitment to Judaism and Israel. Our family is grateful that Muss has survived and thrived for 50 years with the support of so many community leaders and alumni. His vision has made an enduring impact on Jewish continuity. May it grow from generation to generation, l’dor vador.”
A photo of Rabbi Kipper with Israeli President Yitzchak Navon, who commended and supported the AMHSI program, taken in 1979
“The founding of Muss was a revolutionary idea,” added Rabbi Greg Litcofsky, a Muss alumnus who now serves as JNF-USA’s Executive Director, Recruitment and Partnerships, AMHSI. “From its days under the leadership of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation to being renamed the Alexander Muss High School in Israel, and today, being a part of Jewish National Fund-USA, we’re continuing to realize Rabbi Kipper's dream and connecting thousands of American Jewish teenagers to their ancestral land and faith.”
On Sunday, November 13, 2022, at 7:00 pm, local Muss alumni, former educators, and South Florida-area philanthropists will commemorate the school’s 50th anniversary at a celebratory gala at Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, where they’ll recognize how Jewish National Fund-USA’s ultimate college-prep experience empowers high school teens to excel academically while inspiring them to connect with their heritage via a hands-on interactive curriculum spanning 4,000+ years of Jewish and Israeli history.
Recent photo of local AMHSI students bound for Israel departing from Miami International Airport
“In America, you really have only one dimension of what it means to be Jewish, but here [at Muss], in my classes, when we took trips, I realized that Judaism is so much broader and that I can be Jewish in so many different ways,” said Miami-based alumnus Noah Yecutieli.
“For 50 years, students like me experienced the land of Israel as a living classroom,” added Litcofsky. “That truly is one of the greatest gifts that we can offer our students when they join us for a semester at Muss."
Teenage students pose for a photo at Alexander Muss High School in Israel in November 1976
The event’s keynote speaker, former U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, Elan S. Carr, is also expected to be a major draw for the community. In his former role, Carr advised the Secretary of State and was responsible for directing U.S. policies and projects aimed at countering antisemitism throughout the world. Because of his unyielding pursuit of justice, he has become a recognized leader in the fight against anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses and globally.
“I have been in awe of the magic of Muss and what these teens end up contributing to our society in the long term since my son Ron, who is now Muss’ president, attended the program nearly 40 years ago,” said Aventura Resident Bob Werner, who currently serves as Honorary Chair, AMHSI Board of Directors and Chair of Muss’ 50th Anniversary Committee. “So many of these students went on to attend top universities including Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Georgetown, and Columbia, and 70% of former participants donate to Jewish charities, 65% are engaged with Jewish/Zionist organizations, and 63% are members of a synagogue. Talk about impact!”
JNF Israel Emissary Zohar Vloski and Israeli Consul General in Miami, Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, pictured with local AMHSI students and parents prior to studying abroad at Muss earlier this year
The festive reception will also feature remarks from the former Dean of Israel studies, David Mitchell; Ron and Bob Werner; and Muss alumna Rabbi Lauren Berkun, as well as performances by the Aventura Turnberry & HaZamir Jewish Youth Choirs. Additionally, a Miami-Dade County official will present a certificate proclaiming November 13 is Alexander Muss High School in Israel Day.
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About Jewish National Fund-USA
JNF-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, JNF-USA is developing new communities in the Galilee and Negev, connecting the next generation to Israel, and creating infrastructure and programs that support ecology, individuals with special needs, and heritage site preservation.