Breaking the bank

CESJDS should better prepare families for the price of the Israel trip.

Ari Kittrie

CESJDS should better prepare families for the price of the Israel trip.

Kaylah Goldrich, Editor-in-Chief

The Senior Capstone Israel trip is the culmination of our CESJDS education. It’s what students are taught to look forward to beginning in kindergarten and is a core part of the JDS experience. Yet, now, in my junior year, one year from the trip, my family found itself lacking information about it, particularly the cost. 

There are two factors that make senior year tuition different from a typical school year. Because Alexander Muss High School in Israel runs the Senior Capstone Trip, the tuition is managed separately from JDS. Thus, students who normally receive tuition assistance cannot receive aid for the cost of the capstone trip, although there are JDS-sponsored endowed funds to help families pay for the trip.

As for tuition processed through JDS, it is halved for senior year because seniors only attend for one semester. Therefore, according to an email sent out to parents by JDS, families who receive tuition assistance for a full year may not qualify for tuition assistance senior year.

Instead of being alerted of this at the beginning of high school, or even when families first join JDS, 11th grade families received an email with this information a couple of months before the tuition assistance application deadline. This email suggests that families should have proactively started discussing, planning and saving for the trip costs in freshman year. But if we were not actively made aware of this information, how could we have known to plan for it? 

Director of Enrollment & Tuition Assistance Orna Siegel said that in the past, JDS has tried hosting family meetings for high school parents with information on the Senior Capstone trip. However, she said that these were not well attended, and therefore not run anymore. This year, the administration sent out an email to all parents of ninth through 11th grade students who receive tuition assistance providing information about the trip, which is a step in the right direction to making this information more accessible. 

According to Siegel, last year and this year, an average of 14% of seniors chose not to participate in the Senior Capstone Trip. 

“There are a certain group of kids who choose not to go on the trip for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes financial, sometimes not financial… I would say the majority of kids who want to go on the trip find a way, but it’s not always easy,” Siegel said. 

While I think sending out an email to all high school parents is definitely a good start in improving communication, I believe that more can be done. Although this email caught the attention of my parents, parents of freshmen who are probably not thinking about the trip may let this email get lost in their inboxes. 

In addition to sending out an email to all high school parents with information about the trip, JDS should specifically alert freshmen parents by sending out individual emails to the families that rely on tuition assistance so they can be proactive in preparing for senior year. 

I understand that no matter how much communication occurs, there will always be families that will not be able to afford to send their kids to Israel. However, I believe that through better communication on both sides, which JDS is beginning to do, at least one more student will have the opportunity to go.