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The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Stay at home seniors: graduates share their alternative second semester plans

Each year, the majority of the senior class embarks upon the Senior Capstone Trip to Israel and Eastern Europe in place of a typical second semester schedule. However, there is also a group of students who choose to stay home for a multitude of reasons: some for financial reasons, others because they plan on attending gap year programs and some simply do not want to attend. 

In light of the Israel-Hamas War that broke out on Oct. 7, the Capstone Trip became a hot topic of conversation. Although some seniors planned to stay home before the attack, others had to make a difficult decision between their comfort level in traveling to a country at war or attending a trip they’d anticipated for a lifetime. 

This year, however, 75% of the Class of 2024 will be attending the Israel trip with an additional 12% of the grade joining the Eastern Europe portion of the trip. 

Simon Reich: Coming into 12th grade, senior Simon Reich said that the idea of the Israel trip presented him with a very meaningful opportunity. However, after looking into the specific itinerary of the program, it seemed unappealing to him. Having previously been to Israel three times, the CESJDS trip seemed repetitive to Reich. He said that he feels confident in his decision to stay home from the trip, especially since he’s found closure throughout the senior year culmination events. 

“I think that this past month, since the last day of school, has actually done a really good job of wrapping up our experience in high school because there have been a lot of times to come together as a complete grade, not just as friend groups,” Reich said. “…This is what we’ve worked for for a while and now it’s finally here.’”

For the next few months, Reich will be taking on the role as an assistant director for a Shakespeare play at Lumina Studio Theater in Silver Spring, traveling to England with family and possibly returning to JDS to assist with the spring Shakespeare play. 

“It’ll be nice to not really worry about doing something super monumental or building a resume for college,” Reich said.

Simon Albert: After coming to JDS as a freshman during the COVID-19 pandemic, senior Simon Albert first learned about the Senior Capstone Trip and felt it was a bit “distant” for him to consider at the time. Albert said he thought it was standard for Jewish day schools to take their students on Israel trips, but he also knew that his goal was to spend a gap year studying at a yeshiva in Israel. For Albert, the choice fell between the two trips, and he decided to attend yeshiva next fall instead of the capstone trip. 

“In the end, I chose to go to yeshiva because it was more cost effective – it was a whole year instead of three months – and also being an Orthodox Jew, I wanted to be with people who have similar customs to me and similar experiences to myself,” Albert said. “I think I could just grow more as a person being in yeshiva as opposed to going with my grade.”

This semester, Albert plans to take on a position that will prepare him for a career in law. Although he applied for positions ranging from governmental roles to ice cream shop jobs, Albert has almost certainly settled on a position at the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

“It will also just be a really good time for me to hone all of the skills I learned in high school such as writing, analyzing data, communicating, speaking,” Albert said. “I’m excited to hone all of those skills and to be able to work in something that I hope to do in the future.” 

Abby Greenberg: Since her arrival at JDS and throughout her high school career, senior Abby Greenberg has looked forward to the Senior Capstone Trip. Greenberg said that her family never had a very strong connection with Israel and that this trip was a large factor in her connection to the state. 

However, following the events of Oct. 7, Greenberg’s family was hesitant to send her on the trip for safety reasons. In the end, Greenberg’s family decided it was best for her to stay home and experience a trip to Israel during a safer time. 

“I’m sad to not be going to Israel, but I know that the decision was made by me and my family for a good reason,” Greenberg said. “I pray for my peers’ safety and hope they are able to soak up their time being in Israel at such an important time in its history.”

Instead of attending the trip, Greenberg looks forward to interning for the director of Camp Timber Tops, the camp she has attended for the past eight years. She hopes to learn more about summer staff recruitment and the logistical background of a summer camp. 

“I’m excited to be an intern for my camp because it’s helping get an inside look on what it’s like to work for camp and see the other side of all of the summer fun,” Greenberg said. “It’s cool to see all of the things that happen during the year that ultimately impact the summer that we have at camp.”

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About the Contributor
Aliza Bellas
Aliza Bellas, Managing Editor, Copy
Aliza is ecstatic to continue her work on The Lion’s Tale as Managing Editor, Copy in the upcoming year. In her past year as Opinion Editor, Aliza found passion in writing timely articles, editing interesting stories, and designing spreads. Outside of the Pub Hub, Aliza dedicates her time to her role as Junior Class President, the Regional Vice President of Membership in BBYO’s D.C. Council, and her role as Editor-in-Chief of The Melting Pot. Aliza is eager to get started on developing the paper’s writing and ensuring that every web and print article is as polished as can be.  

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