AMHSI - The Alexander Muss High School in Israel, is a program for Jewish (and sometimes non-Jewish) teens to visit and learn about Israel. Students come from around the US and occasionally Great Britain or Canada to the campus in Hod HaSharon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, where they stay for two months. There is a core history class which is basically Jewish history with some world history worked in, and they also have 'sequentials' which are classes they bring from their home schools.

Two or three times a week the whole group takes field trips (tiyulim) throughout the country to places corresponding to what they are learning about in their core class. Some of the better trips are to Massada on the Dead Sea, to the Negev in the south, and to Mount Gilboa in the north. Some trips are day long, but the better ones involve spending a night in one of Israel's many youth hostels. On the trips you take hikes, mess around, and have history lessons.

After talking to my teacher on this trip, I got the idea that the true purpose of the program was to create informed zionists. Based on my experience this doesn't quite work. Most of the students became zionists armed with just enough basic knowledge to foster a feeling of self-righteousness, but not enough to really understand the situation. The curriculum is outwardly pretty objective, but the information presented is carefully chosen to give a very pro-Israel standpoint. The group I was in had to leave early because of Gulf War II so we didn't get past the 1948 war, but I am assuming current issues would have been handled in a similar way.

Of course, much of the trip was consumed by traditional teenage pursuits. A lot of people bought hookahs, drank, spent obscene amounts of money shopping, smoked, and hooked up with each other. You can take the tiger out of the jungle, but you can't take the jungle out of the tiger I guess.

Overall, I enjoyed the program, but if I had to do it again I would wait until after high school and plan my own trip.

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