One of the highlights of the 12th grade year, if not the entire SDJA experience, is the annual Senior Trip to Poland and Israel.
12th graders who participate in the trip finish their academic work prior to Passover break, capping off with a meaningful Senior Siyyum program in which they reflect on the totality of their SDJA academic careers. Immediately after Passover break, the seniors, accompanied by an SDJA staff member, board an airplane, or sometimes two or even three, and fly to Poland for a week-long tour of notable historical Jewish sites in a country that for quite some time housed the largest Jewish population in the world. These sites include ancient synagogues, cemeteries, sites where Nazis operated concentration camps and death camps during the Holocaust, and more.
After a meaningful and reflective week in Poland, the students fly to Israel, arriving in time to observe the consecutive holidays of Yom HaZikaron, Israel Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror, and Yom HaAtzmaut, Israeli Independence Day. The following three weeks are spent traversing the land and learning about the long history of Jews (and other groups) there. Highlights include a sunrise hike up the mountain of Masada, rafting the Jordan River, visiting a Druze village, snorkeling in Eilat, and many, many more. Every site and activity carries an educational component; our seniors are constantly engaged in experiential education and enhancing their understanding of, and connection to, the Jewish homeland.
Our trip provider since the trip’s inception in 2003 has been Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI). AMHSI provides security, lodging, transportation, and all other logistical needs for our group throughout the trip. They also provide teachers and madrichim who provide supervision and teach our students about the many sites that they visit. AMHSI is well aware of SDJA’s educational philosophy as well as the uniqueness of the SDJA community, and they have been an excellent partner for us for the past 15 years.
Seniors also participate in a variety of fundraising projects throughout the year in order to help raise money for families who require financial aid to help cover the cost of the trip. They run the senior snack bar during lunch every day and at various special events throughout the school year. They are also currently selling raffle tickets at $25 apiece for an electric bike which retails for over $1,000. To purchase raffle tickets please contact any member of the class of 2020 or Shifra Baltinester, our parent volunteer who is helping coordinate the class fundraising efforts.
The Senior Trip is many things to many students, but all agree that it is a worthwhile, meaningful culmination of their Judaic Studies educational experiences at SDJA.