New Grant for Maryland Students to Enable High-Schoolers to Learn in Israel

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Mara Fahl

The Lewis family in Jerusalem (Fred and Jill Lewis)

High-school students in the state of Maryland have a new way to access Israel-education experiences with the establishment of generous grants towards tuition at Alexander Muss High School in Israel, colloquially known as “Muss.”

The Fred and Jill Lewis Grant is now accepting applications from 10th- to 12th-grade students who do not currently attend a Jewish day school to use towards a semester or eight-week “minimester” program at the educational institution in Israel. It allows participants to take up to four general-studies classes, including honors and AP coursework.

The couple, who lives in Fulton, decided to create the grant after two of their three children attended the school and had profoundly impactful experiences.

“It changed their lives!” declared Jill Lewis, describing her children’s experiences. “I wish something like this had been available to me when I was a teen. Now we want to be able to help as many students as possible experience this program.”

Muss, which was founded 50 years ago and based in Hod Hasharon near Tel Aviv, immerses its students in Israeli and Jewish history and culture while maintaining high academic standards for college preparation. About 1,500 high-schoolers attend each year.

“Not only is it a great experience,” said Lewis, “it is wonderful for college preparation. It teaches teens to be independent and successful, and helps them stand out. It’s a real study-abroad experience.”

Furthermore, the couple hopes that the experience will help young Jews be prepared to navigate the increasing complexity of college campuses, stating that a firsthand Israel experience and strong Jewish identity before college is vital to building self-confidence and advocacy skills.

But students, the ambassadors of the program, say it best.

“I can’t express enough how much Muss changed my life; this experience propelled me in ways I could have never imagined,” revealed Benjamin Schwartz. “My life and view of Israel will never be the same. My identity as a Jew has new meaning to me.”

‘A lifelong transformative journey’

Speaking about what this grant will mean for Jewish youth in Maryland, Adam Tennen, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic region, noted that “Maryland has such a vibrant and strong Jewish community, and this grant will serve as a crucial step in supporting our next generation of leaders. Teens who participate in Muss come back academically and emotionally prepared to succeed.”

Echoing his sentiments, Rabbi Greg Litcofsky, executive director of recruitment and partnerships at Muss, said “we can’t wait to welcome more students from Maryland and to see the positive impact they’ll have on their communities moving forward.”

He added that “Muss is the start of a lifelong transformative journey, and I couldn’t be more excited to see how many more doors this grant will open for Maryland teens.”

To learn more or apply for the grant, email Stephanie Aseraph, Israel Programs Admissions director, Mid-Atlantic region, at: SAseraph@jnf.org (301-589-8565, Ext. 480).

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