Photo Credit: Courtesy JNF-USA
Students from Jewish National Fund-USA’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel program bid emotional farewells to each other after landing back in the United States.

With new restrictions in Israel as a result of the coronavirus and as uncertainty surrounding the availability of international flights continues to grow, Jewish National Fund-USA released $500,000 from the organization’s endowment to charter an El Al Boeing 787 Dreamliner to bring 282 American students studying at the Alexander Muss High School (AMHSI) in Hod Hasharon to the United States on Sunday.

The students attending the high school in Israel program were from Maryland’s Charles E. Smith Jewish Day and California’s Milken Community Schools. JNF also made seats on the flight available to students from New York’s Ramah program.

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“We always have, and always will, prioritize the safety and well-being of our students,” said Joe Wolfson, AMHSI-JNF chairman of the board. “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.”

Despite the unprecedented decision to fly students back to the United States, AMHSI staff members 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 United States and the 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.”

Ron Wermer, president of AMHSI, said “with every challenge, there are opportunities. I am inspired by the words of Rabbi Leor Sinai [at Muss], 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 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.”

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