Groves Student Participates in JNF-USA’s Muss Study Abroad Program
JAli Rubenstein encourages other students to take advantage of a gap semester at Alexander Muss High School in Israel (Muss).
JAli Rubenstein, a high school student from Groves High School in West Bloomfield and the daughter of a conservative rabbi and Jewish educator, took a trip with the flagship study abroad program of the Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF -USA), Alexander Muss High School in Israel (Muss).
One of the most impactful programs for Jewish American high school students, Muss combines a traditional high school education with a unique curriculum that teaches the history of Israel through interactive and rigorous academic programming.
Judaism has always played an important role in Tali’s life, she says. She attended Hillel Day School until eighth grade and went to Camp Ramah in Wisconsin for years. Therefore, after discovering an opportunity to study abroad in Israel, she had to seize the moment.
Like many students during the pandemic, Tali didn’t particularly like school Zoom. “I would always be online on Zoom, and that just wasn’t something I was interested in,” Tali says. “And when I found out that I could study abroad in Israel, and I could have a normal school semester, that was the main draw… It was something new, totally out of my zone. comfort, but it felt great.”
She did more research on Muss, finding that some people she knew had been on the program before. After contacting JNF-USA,
Tali decided this was the next step in her education and was excited to join like-minded people who are passionate about improving their Judaic studies.
Tali joined other teens on this trip to Israel during the fall semester of her freshman year. She said Muss supported students from all different streams of Judaism, regardless of their level of religious practice.
Every Friday the students gathered for a Shabbat meal.
“Everyone was open,” says Tali. “They made sure that people who observed Shabbat and those who didn’t were comfortable. Whether you are Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed or secular, everyone fits in perfectly.
Muss also reinforced Tali’s connection to Judaism. Despite her past experiences growing up in a Jewish family and attending a Jewish school, she discovered new knowledge while living in Israel for four months. During this time, she was able to dive deep into the immersive culture of Israel, with Muss using the Land of Israel as a living, breathing classroom.
“What touched me was talking about the political situation on the ground,” she said. “I feel like before, I was sheltered, and I only learned one side. But Muss allowed us to take the time to hear all the points of view.
Throughout the program, Tali also enjoyed taking Hebrew lessons. “My Hebrew was a bit more advanced than the majority of my classmates,” she says. “I learned Hebrew since kindergarten, but when I got to high school, I lost some of it. It was nice to have a refresher.
The program also offered different levels of Hebrew for different Hebrew skills.
Not only was Tali intrigued by the classes at Muss, but she was also thrilled to experience the beauty of Israel firsthand on a trip with her Israel Studies teachers.
One of Tali de Muss’ best memories was of traveling to Jerusalem and seeing the Old City for the first time. Tali remembers that all the students were blindfolded and escorted onto a bus. Once the bus stopped, everyone formed a march of trust. After removing their blindfolds, the sun elegantly rose over Jerusalem as the group sang the popular song, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold).
“I think for everyone it was a highlight. We barely knew each other because we were just out of quarantine, but we were all still so connected. I think it was the best time for me” , she says.
Tali hopes to one day return to Israel, continuing her Judaic studies with a university study abroad program. In the meantime, she stays connected through weekly Shabbat celebrations with her family, summers at Camp Ramah, and keeps up to date with Israeli news. Additionally, she plans to have an active Jewish life on campus when she enters college in the fall.
Tali encourages other students to take advantage of a gap semester at Muss.
“I would 100% recommend the program to friends,” she says. “I feel like Muss gives you everything you need in America. All the classes you have to take are in sync with everyone back home. You meet a whole new group of people from all walks of life.
“I met my best friends on Muss, my college roommate for the next year, and even created special one-on-one relationships with many teachers there. Those relationships will shape the rest of my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Alexandre Muss High School in Israel offers both semesters abroad in Israel and summer programs. For more information, visit amhsi.org or contact Sunny Nayberg at