There was hardly a dry eye in the parking lot this morning as the bus pulled out en route to the airport on the first leg of the long-awaited Class of 2019 Israel trip. Helping our students to forge a strong connection to Israel in Middle School—at a crucial life stage when they are learning more about themselves every day and developing their identities—increases the chances they will maintain that relationship into the future. In this way, the trip does not signal the end of their day-school career, but rather the beginning of their lifetime commitment to their Jewish heritage, Israel, and the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and around the world.
The two-week, “hands-on” CDS Israel trip is designed to give our students a meaningful, intense, educational, emotional, and focused taste of their Jewish homeland. How do we fill their days and nights? Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tiberias, Tzfat. Trekking through deserts and floating in the Dead Sea. Visiting historical sites, natural wonders, and museums. Ascending Masada at sunrise. Making friends with other teens in our sister cities of Karmiel/Misgav and with IDF soldiers guarding the northern border. Engaging in social justice projects. And much, much more.
Many thanks to all of you who support our Pay It Forward online fundraising campaign to make this trip possible, along with the incredible generosity of the Adina Preis Endowment Fund for Community Day School, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, The Sholom Comay Family Endowment Fund, The Timothy Glick Israel Scholarship Endowment Fund, The Wimmer Family Foundation, and of course, the families and students of the Class of 2019.
These newest CDS graduates will be accompanied by Tzippy Mazer, Head of Lower School and Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Middle School Hebrew teacher Ronit Pasternak, and Jordan Hoover, Director of Technology and Strategic Initiatives. In addition, inspired by Andy and Rita Rabin and their family, Marketing & Communications Director Jennifer Bails will travel along with this class to help them capture and communicate their life-changing experience. Please share this blog with friends, colleagues, and family, and stay tuned for regular updates from Israel over the next two weeks in photos, video, and words!