URJ Heller High 2022 Alum
Hometown: Pullman, WA
High School: Pullman High School
Why did you decide to participate in an Israel experience program during high school?
I decided to spend a semester in Israel with Heller High School because I wanted the chance to explore my passion for Judaism and Zionism in the land of Israel. Living in Eastern Washington, the Jewish community is pretty small, so having the opportunity to study and learn in Israel was a dream opportunity for me.
What was the highlight of the experience for you?
Getting to explore Israel and creating life long friendships and memories with Jewish teens across the country.
What was Israel to you before the program, and what does Israel mean to you now?
I have always grown up learning about Israel, but saw it as something far away and not part of my Jewish story. Heller High gave me the opportunity to live in Israel and get an immersive cultural experience. It made Israel feel like my forever second home.
Has your Jewish identity changed since spending time in Israel?
Since returning from Israel I have felt an even stronger connection to my Jewish identity and have gained more pride and confidence in who I am. Learning about the Jewish story in our homeland opened my eyes to the importance of my personal identity and traditions.
Do you plan to go to Israel again? If so, when?
I’m really looking forward to going back to Israel hopefully really soon. I’m looking forward to Birthright or a study abroad during college.
What advice do you have for other teens interested in Israel experiences?
Going to Israel will be the best decision you make during high school. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to go on a life-changing adventure and see Israel and explore your identity.
How are you involved in the Jewish community since coming back to Washington?
Since coming back from Israel I have become much more involved in the Jewish community. I am vice president for my USY chapter, an officer with the Seattle Holocaust Center for Humanity student leadership board and a StandWithUs Kenneth Leventhal Intern.