Senior Israel trip delayed


Photo courtesy of Mischa Trainor

Landy sent out an email to families of seniors at 11:54 a.m. on Friday announcing that the Capstone Israel Trip would be delayed.

Daniela Abrams, News Editor

The Irene and Daniel Simpkins Israel Capstone Trip was delayed on Friday after Israeli cabinet officials made the decision to extend the lockdown on Ben-Gurion Airport until Feb. 20. Alexander Muss High School (AMHSI) is working closely with CESJDS to ensure seniors will still be able to attend the 12-week program that was originally planned. 

The JDS administration is trying to be as safe as possible to make sure all the seniors are able to test negative before their departure by encouraging them to avoid indoor hangouts. However, the trip departure date remains uncertain. The JDS administration expects to give the seniors short notice before departing to Israel due to the rapidly changing circumstances.  

Senior Sami Himmelfarb did not expect the lockdown to affect their departure date. She is now making use of the extra month by keeping herself busy with activities at home. 

“I’ve been … walking my dog. I love to bake so I’ve been baking a lot, exercising and I still have some school-related stuff going on,” Himmelfarb said. “I am still dealing with debate stuff and I’m also helping with graduation and Siyum.”

Despite the mandatory 14-day quarantine for seniors upon their arrival in Israel, the seniors will still be able to participate in many of the fundamental aspects of the trip during the rest of their stay. 

“They are still experiencing Israel and will be bonding as a group,” Dean of Students and Interim High School Principal Roslyn Landy said.

Many students feel stressed by the lack of certainty. AMHSI and JDS do not have much information to give to students because the Israeli cabinet has yet to give a concrete decision. 

In the case that students depart after Pesach, their trip would be cut a couple of weeks short to allow them to return for graduation and prom in June. JDS also wanted to make sure that the trip will not conflict with any senior’s summer plans. 

“I didn’t want to plan anything particularly concrete because the trip was so up in the air and I didn’t really want to do something super time-consuming or complicated,” Himmelfarb said.

Students who are attending the Israel trip have over a month-long break where they are not in school. The majority have been extra safe and are avoiding seeing friends to ensure a negative test before departure. 

“For the seniors, in addition to the disappointment of not going to Israel on time, I think the greatest challenge is they are bored to tears (not literally),” Landy said. “After being in school for many hours a day, suddenly to have so much time is difficult in a pandemic with nowhere to go.”

Although the past senior class’ Israel trip was cut short, they were still able to experience a normal last semester, prom and graduation. 

“Despite all of the disappointments this class has faced during a challenging senior year in a pandemic, they have been unbelievably resilient and I am very proud of them,” Landy said. 

While this may be a tough time for many students, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Many are hopeful that within the next month, the Class of 2021 will get to experience a formative capstone trip, even under these challenging circumstances. 

“I’m most looking forward to … being able to be inside and spend time with my friends … without having to worry about COVID restrictions,” Himmelfarb said. “Beyond that, I am looking forward to hiking, being in warm weather and going to the ocean.”