New York, NY: April 6, 2021 — Against all odds and after weeks of planning, “Operation Zion” was launched as an El Al Boeing 787 Dreamliner chartered by Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) – dubbed “JNForce One” – took-off from New York’s J.F.K. Airport with 241 exuberant teens from across the U.S. on board bound for the organization’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel (High School in Israel).

Twelve months ago at the onset of the Pandemic, JNF-USA took on the unprecedented responsibility of airlifting hundreds of American teens from its High School in Israel, in addition to students from other organizations back to the U.S.

JNF-USA High School in Israel students about to depart JFK airport for Israel

“There was so much fear of the unknown back then, yet over the past 12 months, we not only adapted to a new reality – we embraced it and brought a new generation of Jewish teens into our JNF-USA family. Now we are thrilled to charter a flight back to Israel with the next generation of Jewish leaders on board,” said JNF-USA President Dr. Sol Lizerbram. “These students never gave up hope that JNF-USA would bring them to Israel for a transformative life-defining experience that comes from them taking their general academic studies in addition to the experiential journey that High School in Israel provides – and today, we fulfilled that promise. We were determined to make this happen because we know that our People’s next David Ben Gurion, Theodore Herzl, and Golda Meir are on that flight.”

JNF-USA worked closely at the highest levels with the relevant Israeli government ministries, health authorities, El Al, and Ben Gurion Airport to gain special permission for the students to enter Israel. It is believed that this is the first and only group of American teens to enter Israel since travel restrictions were imposed.

JNF-USA High School in Israel students about to depart JFK airport for Israel

High School in Israel President and alum, Ron Werner said: “Yesterday, we concluded the festival of Passover – a story about our People’s unrelenting desire to reestablish a homeland in Israel for them, their children, and their children’s children. Today, our children are continuing that dream and returning to our Promised Land, the land of Israel and the nation of the Jewish people. Like the 31,450 alumni who have come before them, these teens will have the time of their life in Israel while pursuing academic excellence that sets them up for success in college.”

Flight LY004 will land at Ben Gurion Airport on April 6 at 1:20 PM where the students will be greeted by High School in Israel madrichim (leaders) who will oversee the students’ wellbeing during their strict two-week quarantine period.

Students from JNF-USA’s High School in Israel arrive at Ben Gurion Airport

High School in Israel Head of School, Dr. Mark Shinar said: “It is with a great deal of excitement and gratitude that we welcome these students to Israel and to High School in Israel just after Passover. What seemed, just a few weeks ago, to be the impossible, suddenly became a reality when our dedicated professionals from both Israel and the U.S. moved mountains to ensure that our students would finally, after months of being unable to enter, be allowed to come to Israel to begin their spring academic semester. Together, we will study 4000 years of Jewish History and utilize this amazing country as a living classroom.”

High School in Israel’s Summer Semester is already sold out and places on the Fall Semester are filling fast. To join the wait list or for more information visit amhsi.org or contact Rabbi Greg Litcofsky at GLitcofsky@amhsi.org or 212.879.9305 x250. Students can access up to $7,500 in tuition support through DREAM ISRAEL (jnf.org/dreamisrael).

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Jewish National Fund-USA
JNF-USA is the leading philanthropic organization for Israel that supports critical environmental and nation building activities in Israel’s north and south. Through its One Billion Dollar Roadmap for the Next Decade, JNF-USA is developing new communities in the Galilee and Negev, connecting the next generation to Israel, and creating infrastructure and programs that support ecology, individuals with special needs, and heritage site preservation.
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