Leor Sinai
Iron like a lion in Zion.

Answering the Needs of Jewish Teens & our Future

Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF) Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI-JNF) is in the midst of a banner year, with our Hod HaSharon campus at capacity this spring.  I’ve been shouting it from the rooftops for years to anyone who would listen: American and global Jewish youth are craving an immersive Israel experience for high school students, and simply put, there is no better way to facilitate a deep understand, and love for, Israel than bringing Jewish teens to the Jewish homeland for a long-term program.  There is no better time to prepare Jewish students for the types of conversations they will face on college campuses regarding Israel, for the questions they themselves may have visa vie identity, peoplehood, and land, than to educate them before they get to college, and to do it on the very land where our history actually took place!

At AMHSI-JNF, they gain the knowledge, experience, and conviction to know who they are and where they come from. Our enrollment numbers reflect and prove this trend.

To facilitate our readiness for this task, we’ve had some help along the way. Five years into a merger with JNF we are firmly planted as a key component of JNF’s Israel Continuum–a series of programs and opportunities that connect U.S. students with Israel from pre-school through college and beyond. Children who grow up participating in a Tu BiShvat program or giving tzedakah in a Blue Box now step foot on our Hod HaSharon campus, and then move on to participate in JNF’s Positively Israel programs or Israel trips, like Alternative Break. The Israel Continuum is essential for securing the next generation of Jewish leaders and Israel advocates, and we’re proud to offer an Israel-based anchor within it for American youth.

Our place in the Jewish National Fund family has enabled our 47-year-old institution to grow in a multitude of ways. We have increased visibility in the larger Jewish community, and to support that, we have re-branded and revamped our public relations and marketing to match Jewish National Fund’s professionalism and reflect redefined strategic priorities. We have overhauled the school’s operations, hired new key staff members to better serve our students and their families, and retrained our veterans to reflect clarified priorities. These changes pave the way for the exponential growth that will come in the years to come, as we prepare to open our southern campus as part of Jewish National Fund’s Israel Education and Technology Center in Be’er Sheva–which couldn’t come at a better time.

However, no commentary on increased enrollment would be complete without crediting our incredible alumni network. Peer-to-peer recommendations have always been our bread and butter, and indeed, for all teen programs. But recently, we have also been engaging more through social media and localized geographic efforts, and it has created a domino effect that has led to AMHSI-JNF’s highest registration numbers ever–and deposit trends indicate an expected continued growth.

As university admissions continue to become more competitive, our students are beginning to submit applications two to three years in advance, because they know that a high school study abroad experience is what will set them apart from other teens applying to college. Where better to have that college preparatory experience than in Israel?

Our children our inquisitive, sophisticated, and have important questions to ask.  Now more than ever American Jews are yearning to connect more with our rich heritage and homeland. AMHSI-JNF is up to the task for both our day school and community partners, and for those participating in our Semester, Mini-mester, and summer programs.

If you are concerned about our future – don’t be; The future has never looked brighter for our institution, and for the global Jewish community.

About the Author
Originally from New York, Rabbi Leor Sinai made Aliyah, moved with his family to Israel, in June 2011. Growing up he was involved in NYC's night life as a club producer and M.C., in 1995 that all changed while he spent the academic year abroad studying at Haifa University in Israel. It was when then Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated that Leor realized there were more important things to life. He changed his academic concentration and took a detour thereby challenging himself to focus on more important things. Since then Leor's professional resume includes experiences in the field of leadership development, organizational advancement and consulting. Leor was ordained in 2009 at The Jewish Theological Seminary and works passionately to build networks of individuals focused on making our world better. Leor began his tenure as co-CEO at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education in October 2013. While diversity can become a source of divisiveness, it in fact should be a basis for unity. When we demonstrate compassion towards others, accountability for our actions, and availability for our community, we reveal the enlightening potential of our existence. It is imperative that the world I live in values and welcomes those who wish to be a part of it.
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