July 11, 2024
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Exploring Pathways to Higher Education in Israel: A Transformative Trip for Guidance Counselors

(Courtesy of JLIC) The Tzemach David Educational Foundation, in partnership with JLIC, the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs and World Mizrachi, orchestrated an impactful trip for guidance counselors from distinguished high schools across the United States. Participating schools included RASG Hebrew Academy, Ramaz, Yeshiva University High School for Girls, The Frisch School, Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy, SKA, Schechter School of Long Island, Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School and Bnei Akiva Schools. Representatives from Mizrachi also joined the trip, representing three partner JLIC campuses. This initiative was designed to provide counselors with a deep understanding of the pathways available for students interested in pursuing higher education in Israel.

The journey, from June 24-27, took the group to nine prestigious Israeli colleges and universities: Reichman University, Technion, Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, Machon Lev/Tal, Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University, Ariel University and Ben-Gurion University. At each institution, the counselors spent two to three hours engaging with key academic and administrative figures. Meetings with the Director and Dean of Admissions, coupled with comprehensive campus tours, offered a thorough insight into each university’s offerings. Additionally, the counselors enjoyed lunches with JLIC directors and alumni from U.S. high schools, which provided a firsthand look at student life and the supportive communities available to international students.

One of the primary goals of this trip was to explore the academic offerings in both Hebrew and English, ensuring that U.S. students have viable options regardless of their language proficiency. By establishing contacts within the admissions departments and building relationships with key personnel, the counselors are now well-equipped to guide their students through the application process and address any inquiries that may arise. These newly formed connections are invaluable, providing a direct line to the universities for future questions and collaborations.

“The universities in Israel are on par with the best colleges in America. One of the biggest impediments to North American Jewish students enrolling in Israeli colleges is their lack of knowledge of the opportunities in Israel. We saw it as vital to bring Jewish day school college counselors to Israel, to show them all Israel has to offer their students, and to get them excited about encouraging their students to apply to colleges in Israel. We are so grateful that so many guidance counselors responded to our invitation to come to Israel. Based on the feedback from the trip, it accomplished all of our goals, and more,” said David Magerman, president and founder, Tzemach David Educational Foundation.

The participants had the opportunity to observe how JLIC supports Anglo students both on campus and in the broader Israeli community. The counselors witnessed the proactive role JLIC plays in ensuring that students from English-speaking backgrounds feel welcomed, supported and integrated into the Israeli academic and social landscape. JLIC’s presence was a reassuring factor for the counselors from providing religious guidance to organizing social events and fostering a sense of community. It demonstrated the robust network available to students who choose to pursue their higher education in Israel.

The evenings of this intensive trip were equally enriching. The counselors attended dinners with representatives from various Israeli schools, the Israel Student Authority and the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. These interactions were not only informative but also offered additional networking opportunities. Engaging with these representatives provided deeper insights into the support systems available for international students and highlighted the commitment of Israeli institutions to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment.

Despite the packed schedule, the trip allowed for essential debriefing sessions. These moments of reflection enabled the counselors to consolidate their newfound knowledge and strategize on how best to implement their insights back home. This structured approach ensures that the benefits of the trip extend beyond the immediate experience, translating into enhanced support and guidance for students considering higher education in Israel.

“We recognize that there are practical, emotional and informational gaps when students think about going to universities and colleges in Israel. We need to bridge all of those which this trip was able to do. The college guidance counselors need to be well informed, ‘feel’ the different campuses, and connect with the leadership at these universities in order to best suggest options to their students. We knew it was important but didn’t realize the extent until after this trip. It was an incredible group of participants who wanted to just keep learning more, and in turn, we learned so much from them,” said Tamar Krieger, executive director, Tzemach David Educational Foundation.

The trip fostered stronger connections between U.S. high schools and Israeli universities and paved the way for future students to navigate their educational journeys abroad with confidence. The relationships and knowledge gained during this trip will undoubtedly enhance the counselors’ ability to support and guide their students, making higher education in Israel a more accessible and appealing option.

The success of this trip was due in large part to the meticulous planning and unwavering support of the Tzemach David Educational Foundation. Their dedication to facilitating such a transformative experience for the guidance counselors cannot be overstated. The foundation’s efforts in coordinating every detail and providing continuous support throughout the trip were instrumental in its success. The counselors and their respective schools owe a deep sense of gratitude to the Tzemach David Educational Foundation for making this opportunity possible.

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