My name is Jamie Friedman, I am 16 years old, live in Boulder, and this semester I am abroad with NFTY Eisendrath International Experience (EIE) in Israel. I have been here about 1.5 months, and I can honestly say it is already a life changing experience. I chose to come on EIE to learn more about Israel, the Arab-Israeli conflict, my own connections to Judaism, and to experience a new culture. In my time here I can say that I have already begun to accomplish all of those goals.
My group consists of 73 students. We live on Kibbutz Tzuba outside of Jerusalem, and take all of our classes here. Our school weeks are from Sunday-Thursday, and Friday-Saturday we celebrate Shabbat. The school curriculum is incredibly rigorous. A full school day is about 11 hours long in total (8:15 am-7:15 pm). My schedule consists of:
8:15-11:00 – Jewish History
11:15-12:55 – Hebrew
1:05-7:15 – General Studies, which includes random off periods for lunch and free time depending on how many classes the student takes. I take Economics, World History, Pre Calculus, Language Arts, Chemistry, and an ACT Class, so I don’t get that much free time but many students have more off time.
Though this seems insane, many days we will have a half-day or full-day tiyul (field trip) where we travel all around the country and learn about history in the actual site where it occurred. Our days are so long to make up for all we have to learn in the amount of time we have to accommodate both education and travel. I have been to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the north, and we also had a two-week trip to the south of Israel. During that trip I participated in Gadna- a four-day army training simulation where we all got to experience what it would be like to join the Israeli army. Additionally, we went to the Dead Sea, hiked Masada, and spent some time in Eilat where we hiked through the desert and swam in the Red Sea. Next week we will be traveling to Poland for about a week to learn about a tragic time in Jewish history – the holocaust.
That is essentially the gist of my program. I love it here, and absolutely recommend it to anyone who is remotely interested.