During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all learned that nothing is concrete. This is especially true with our ever-changing and tumultuous plans to study at Jewish National Fund-USA’s (JNF-USA) Alexander Muss High School in Israel (“High School in Israel”) this year.

After months of quarantine, we discovered the opportunity to travel to Israel on a study abroad program with High School in Israel. Spending two months across the world sounded like paradise after months spent cooped up at home. It was easy for us to make the decision to sign up for High School in Israel’s winter mini-mester program, an eight-week study abroad program in Israel.

Israel, a destination we’ve always wanted to see and experience, was opening up in autumn. High School in Israel was running several highly successful and healthy programs at the time, so we believed that we would get to Israel in January 2021 with no issues.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. When Israel went into a complete lockdown at the start of 2021, we still had high hopes that Israel’s skies would be open for our travels in late January. However, the lockdown persisted, and the Israeli government closed the skies to all flights.

Initially, our travels were delayed two weeks into February, but we were still confident that the government would give High School in Israel approval to bring in the awaiting students. Sadly, the new February date was no longer plausible due to Israel’s continued restrictions.

We were disappointed, but we still had the utmost confidence that High School in Israel would bring us to Israel as soon as possible. Because our mini-mester session was no longer achievable after the February date was canceled, we switched into the full semester program, a three-month program scheduled to leave in early March. Despite Israeli citizens gaining approval to fly into Israel, students were still barred from entering. Thankfully, High School in Israel did not lose hope and remained committed to bringing us to Israel.

Though students could not be physically attending classes on campus, High School in Israel offered virtual classes to those who were interested. Eager to join the High School in Israel community, we started classes with our general studies teachers. Classes met on Zoom and connected students from across the country with their teachers in Israel.

After months of anticipation, High School in Israel successfully obtained our student entry permits. To say we were ecstatic is an understatement! High School in Israel and JNF-USA had the resources needed to accomplish such a feat, as we were the first international students granted permission to enter the country.

On April 5, we are flying to Ben Gurion Airport via a chartered El-Al flight for all the High School in Israel program attendees. We owe it all to the efforts of those at JNF-USA’s High School in Israel who worked hours on end to bring us to their campus. We cannot wait to land in Israel and spend the upcoming months abroad. We look forward to sharing tales of what is sure to be a unique and life-changing journey both during and after our study abroad!

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