Reshaping My Jewish Identity with Muss - An Alumna Spotlight

Blog image - Reshaping My Jewish Identity with Muss - An Alumna Spotlight

I always knew I would attend Alexander Muss High School in Israel (Muss). Both of my parents attended the school in the early ‘90s, and their first date was dinner before a local Muss reunion in Atlanta. Their wedding ketubah was even made by the legendary David Mitchell, the Muss teacher extraordinaire who sparked their shared love for the Land of Israel. And yet, though I always knew I would one day experience that signature ‘Muss Magic,” my parents made sure to never tell me what exactly my time at AMHSI would entail. They wanted me to create my own experiences, forging my way as a proud Jew and Zionist. 

Summer 2021 - Foundations Israel

Foundations Israel 2021

Over the past three years, ever since returning from my summer at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel, I’ve delivered my “Muss Magic” spiel a countless number of times, whether at regional Muss recruitment events, as a keynote speaker at Jewish National Fund-USA's national conference, or in my college applications. Though I’d grown up in Jewish day school and always been taught how to love Israel, it wasn’t until that “Muss Magical” summer of 2021 that I truly learned why a love for Zionism and Israel are so important. Under the guidance of my Israel Studies teacher, Reuven Spero, and the best madrichim, I made lifelong friendships while wholeheartedly embracing the Land, State and People of Israel.  

AMHSI Summer 2021 - Reuven Spero, Barri Seitz

Israel Studies Teacher, Reuven Spero

That was the biggest lesson I learned at Muss: Israel is not just a modern state. Israel is our people, our land, our state, our heritage. By chronologically studying the land’s over 4,000-year history at Muss – and the development of Israel from the name of a founding father to his nation of descendants and then to a religion and culture – I have a comprehensive knowledge of the intrinsic connection between the Jewish People and Eretz Yisrael. In understanding this, I believe I hold the key to combatting the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments we see rising across the United States. I know how our nationality and culture is derived from this land, and I understand Zionism as a core tenet of what it means to be Jewish. 

So many of our enemies popularize themselves by exposing what they call Israel’s “lies.” But Alexander Muss High School in Israel preemptively thwarts this by teaching the entire history of the land and state; after my summer at Muss, there is not a single lie about Israel that I cannot immediately confront and dispel. 

I recently finished my first year at the University of Texas at Austin, an amazing two semesters that unfortunately ended with campus unrest as my peers attempted to enact encampments and incite violence. As a co-founder and now Vice President of the student organization Longhorn Students for Israel, I relied on my Muss education to guide myself and my organization through these difficult days. When we were told “to go back to Poland” and that we would be “next in the ovens,” I could remember our tiyul to Yad Vashem and our madricha tearfully recounting her grandparents’ escape from Nazi Europe; when handmade posters calling Ze’ev Jabotinsky a fascist were hung around campus, I could remember the skits we made in our mo’adon to showcase the different forms of twentieth-century Zionism, all of which hoped for a better future for the Jewish People in the land they had been exiled from.  

Barri Seitz


My time at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel upended the way I viewed my place in Jewish history, repositioning myself as the newest link in a generations-long chain that carries the hopes of our ancestors into modernity. In showing how Israel is our ancestral homeland and continues to be our promised land, Muss’ experiential curriculum reaffirms why a love for Israel and Zionism is so important, even in the days of darkness.  

Am Yisrael Chai. Then, now, and forever.