Seniors plan to depart for Israel trip on time


Photo by Jack Weitzner (‘21)

The Class of 2021 rides camels in Kfar Hanokdim in April 2021.

Lily Rulnick, Reporter

76 members of the Class of 2022 are preparing to depart for the Irene and Daniel Simpkins Senior Capstone trip, expected to be the first Israel trip that goes according to plan since 2020. 

Since Israel’s number of reported new cases of COVID-19 is still high, the students will receive PCR tests upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport. High School Assistant Dean and math teacher Tori Ball, who organized the trip, hopes that negative test results will come back quickly, in order to shorten the students’ quarantine period at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI). 

“[AMHSI spring semester students] have already [gone] and they said that their quarantine actually went really smoothly,” Ball said. “They got results back in [about] 24 hours, like we’re used to here at school. So the quarantine actually was able to be really fast.”

Assuming a quick turnaround with test results, the Class of 2022 has a lot of items packed into their nearly 12 week trip. Though their itinerary repeats many activities from previous years, Ball says that an exciting new addition has been added to the schedule.

“They’re debuting a new program this year called Chugim, and the idea of that is that people will be able to choose a deep dive experiential study while in Israel,” Ball said. “The students are going to break into groups based on an area of interest for them, and they’re going to spend a week sort of just exploring that particular area of Israeli culture.”

Whether focusing on Israeli cinema or Israeli cuisine, Ball intends for this individualized experience to make the trip even more meaningful for the seniors. 

To share some highlights from the trip, the seniors will create a blog post each week so that family, friends and the JDS community can follow along as they explore Israel. 

Many students have been looking forward to this trip since they came to JDS. Senior Vanessa Mark is excited to be able to visit Israel for the first time with her peers.

“I’ve been looking forward to the trip for a very long time and I’m really excited to spend the rest of my high school career with my grade just relaxing and having fun in Israel,” Mark said. 

Mark expressed that it is a “big relief” to get to graduate early, and feels grateful to get to spend the short time she has left with her grade on this “​​unique experience.”

“I think that the Israel trip represents the culmination of what one studies at JDS, and you can interpret that in a lot of different ways,” Ball said. “Part of it is that [JDS] has as one of its core values Ahavat Yisrael, and students at JDS will develop a meaningful relationship with the Jewish people and with the Jewish state.”