Contact: Donald Cohen-Cutler 212.650.4213 (Photos Available)
New Science Laboratory, Library Dedicated for NFTY E.I.E. High School in Israel Isaac and Helaine Heller Made State of the Art Facilities a Possibility
July 17, 2007 Kibbutz Tzuba, IsraelMore than 60 students, faculty and alumni were at Kibbutz Tzuba outside Jerusalem this week to dedicate a new laboratory and library at the Union for Reform Judaisms NFTY High School in Israel.
These new facilities are the latest in a series of developments in the Eisendrath International Exchange (E.I.E) program, which has been bringing Reform students from North America to Israel since 1961. The program recently went through the rigorous re-accreditation process from the Middle States Association of Secondary Schools; this process allows the program to be considered a fully accredited American high school in Israel. This year the facility is holding its first summer session for 32 11th and 12th graders.
E.I.E. Principal Baruch Kraus said the re-accreditation of the school means North American students can enroll and receive credit for academic subjects in all disciplines. He added that, The new laboratory will enhance the programs offerings by allowing for a wider range of experiments and science classes.
Isaac and Helaine Heller of Temple Emanuel in Westfield, NJ, whose funding made the new facilities possible, said they have been longtime supporters of E.I.E. since seeing the impact it had on their daughter, Audrey Heller-Romberg, a 1972 E.I.E. alumna. The Hellers created a scholarship endowment for the program in 1975, have made many contributions to it over the past thirty-five years and made several contributions to help refurbish the program since it moved to the kibbutz in 2001. Audrey and her husband, Rabbi Jack Romberg of Temple Israel in Tallahassee, remain involved in several of the Union for Reform Judaisms youth programs, including E.I.E.
More than 150 high school students from across the United States and Canada attended E.I.E. in the 2006-07 school year. The intensive program includes twenty hours a week in Jewish history and Hebrew language immersion in addition to academic classes the students require to stay current in their education. Students also spend time traveling throughout Israel and learning about progressive Jewish life in Israel.
Paul Reichenbach, director of the URJ Youth Division's Camping and Israel Programs, said, The E.I.E. program is instrumental in creating a love for Jewish learning, Jewish community and the Jewish people and their homeland.
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.