Alumni Spotlight - Noa Miasnik
Noa Miasnik – AMHSI Spring Semester 2022
From: Bay Area, California
Israel Studies Teacher – Aubrey Isaacs
How did you come to choose AMHSI and what background did you have before coming?
My parents are from Israel and I have lots of family in Israel so I have visited frequently. I have been all my life in Jewish schools and have lots of Jewish friends, but I had never really lived in Israel. I had never lived its culture or deepened my Jewish knowledge to the extent Muss provides. I heard about Muss from a friend's sister and I decided that this was exactly what I needed. It was the logical next step for me to further my Jewish identity.
Did AMHSI meet your expectations?
Muss exceeded my expectations in every way. Everything was amazing. I spent four wonderful months with a group of students who were really motivated to learn and make the most of our time together. We had madrichim who were passionate to be there for us and worked tirelessly to enable us to make the most of the experience. I spent so much time talking to madrichim and teachers and learning about Israel. Never before have I felt Israeli but while at Muss, I felt immersed in Israel, with the history and with the people really part of the country.
How was the learning experience at AMHSI?
Israel Studies was a unique and special class. Aubrey continuously kept the class engaged and excited about learning. It was so special to not only learn Jewish history while in Israel, but to be able to travel to the actual place where the event occurred. It gave me depth in my understanding of Israeli history and Judaism. Class led on to deep and meaningful conversations. We would go on long hikes and talk with my teacher, madrichim or my classmates about topics like Judaism or my relationship with G-d. I gained an understanding of how each person relates to Judaism in different ways yet we all form one strong community.
Do you have a specific lesson that has affected you?
I found our Holocaust Studies unit very impactful--spending a long day studying in class and then going the next day to experience Yad Vashem added up to a profound and memorable experience. It was especially meaningful to listen to my classmates' personal stories as well as share my own.
How has your time at AMHSI affected you?
Muss was a platform for Jewish people [that are] proud to be Jewish. So, when I was finishing high school, I decided that my next step needed to be in Israel. I deferred my spot in university and am now spending the first half of my gap year in Israel, at the Upper Galilee Leadership Institute. This program is composed of half Israeli participants and half international participants. It has been important for me to spend time with Jews and Israelis of my age. We are studying and volunteering, undergoing leadership training and army preparation.
How has the outbreak of the war affected you?
When the war started, I flew back to California for a few weeks and fundraised, advocated, and supported Israel from afar. I'm excited to be returning to Israel this week! Our mechina is close to the northern border so we have relocated to a Kibbutz near the Kinneret and we will be combining study with volunteering to assist evacuated families.
Looking back at the experience, how significant has it been for you?
Massively. Here I am back in Israel. Our group chat is still really active. I am still directly in touch with the students in my group, with my madrichim and with Aubrey, my Israel Studies teacher. This is a community that doesn't just stop. It lasts long after the four months are over. My thinking and my values have changed. I have made incredible friendships and this is an experience that lasts a lifetime.