Why Do I Believe in Muss - An Alumna Spotlight

Blog image - Why Do I Believe in Muss - An Alumna Spotlight

I spent the night of October 8, 2024, at work, lugging gallons of “just in case” water jugs into the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI) campus safe rooms, while doing my best to reassure the legitimately panicked teenage students setting up their pillows and mattresses to sleep in the shelter. I was drowning in grief and confusion, yet I found certainty in one thing: I was exactly where I was meant to be at that moment. I know it sounds strange to say that Israel and moreover in my place of work is exactly where I want to be when war breaks out. To explain why, I’ll share my AMHSI story, how this place influenced my life, and how I find meaning and hope through this school.

Despite the fact that everything seemed very dramatic to fifteen-year old me, I can say in retrospect that in comparison to the night I just described, the first night I ever spent at AMHSI was far less dramatic. My new roommate helped me lay my purple and turquoise sheets onto my bottom bunk bed. As we chatted, excitedly trying to get to know each other, I confessed to her that I didn’t really know what I had gotten myself into with this semester-long program so far away from home. Most of my life, I had the impression that Israel was more or less just a big desert, far, far away that all the Torah stuff supposedly happened in and that a lot of people fought about.

Four months passed and I found myself sitting crossed legged on my dorm bed, pouring over my notebooks in preparation for my Israel studies final exam. Despite covering thousands of years of content, the studying was easy as I recalled having visited nearly every ancient ruin, mystical mountain, and vibrant culture that I had studied. This was not a historical timeline to be memorized and forgotten about after the exam, this was the story of my people, a resilient people, that rebuilt their homeland here in the very place where I was studying about them. This was a living history that I can help write the next chapter of.

My time studying at AMHSI sparked my connection to Israel, which eventually led me to make aliyah. After serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), I returned to work at AMHSI, this place where I found a morsel of inner peace while horrors occurred around me that night in October. As I looked around at the students I was tasked with protecting, it was clear to me that these teens had within them the same spark of generational resilience and bright Jewish identity that I too had revived through my AMHSI experience. Each student’s spark will grow into something different, yet their collective connected light, which is rooted here in Israel, is what illuminates the Jewish future even in Israel’s darkest nights.

Ruby Russell made aliyah in 2020 and was a commander in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) before returning to work at Alexander Muss High School in Israel where she is the Team Leader of Informal Education at AMHSI. In miluim (reserve duty), she continues to serve as a Sergeant of Operations. 

This month, we are raising money to help support the future of positive Zionist education for American teens, with our I Believe Muss is the Answer campaign! If you want to know how you can support Israel's tomorrow, today, learn more at amhsi.org/believe.