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Study Abroad
Featuring Alyssa Boden, Class of 2024

Photo of Seattle Academy Alyssa Boden '24 Study Abroad News Article

Alyssa (fourth from the right) celebrating Shabbat with classmates in
the mystical city of Tzfat.

Current sophomore Alyssa Boden studied abroad in Hod HaSharon, Israel, her fall semester. She gained friendships, independence, self-advocacy, and a sense of the history of the land that cannot be told in history books or taught in class. As part of Seattle Academy’s curriculum, we support students looking to study abroad as we recognize the educational opportunity it provides. In fact, it is one of our guiding principles to prepare students for not just college, but life. 

As a Jewish-American student, Alyssa gained real-world experience that not only transfers to college and life after graduation, it expanded her horizons and made her think about opportunities down the line that she hadn’t thought of before. These are some of the benefits of studying abroad, in addition to the “many, many falafels” Alyssa enjoyed while in Israel. 

From September to December of 2021, Alyssa studied with Alexander Muss High School in Israel where she took Chemistry, Spanish, Math, History and English as part of the Israeli studies program. Their campus is located in the city of Hod HaSharon, 20 minutes outside of Tel Aviv, and is part of the Mosenson Youth Village which houses students from all over the world. She had open weekends but quickly discovered that all days were educational. 

“I attended Jewish Day School growing up and was knowledgeable about Jewish history, but going to Israel was more like a living classroom. We didn’t learn from a traditional textbook, we learned by seeing and experiencing history, which I refer to as a living textbook,” says Alyssa. 

“When we went to Masada (an ancient fortress in the Judean Desert that overlooks the Dead Sea and is home to ruins, including King Herod’s Palace); I had studied and learned about it back home but in Israel, I lived it,” Alyssa recounts. “My classmates and I saw the sunrise and walked around; we acted out different scenarios. We gained history on what happened all those years ago. I enjoy learning in a classroom but to be at the top of Masada and hear what actually happened — I was able to experience history in real life and it is a memory I will always cherish.” 

In Jerusalem, everything closes from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday in observance of Shabbat (which is Hebrew for Sabbath) where Jewish people who observe Shabbat do not work during this time. Yes, the weekend is generally a time off, but in Judaism doing the dishes, flipping on light switches, driving a car — that is all considered work. On Shabbat, most do not use their phone or drive, that is, depending on their religious beliefs and level of engagement. 

Alyssa was in Israel during many of the Jewish holidays and one of the highlights was on Kol Nidre when walking home from religious services. This is the one holiday in Israel where nobody drives, so to get around they walk or ride their bikes, even on the highways. She and her classmates met other teens in the streets of Jerusalem feeling a connection to a way of life they had never experienced before. Ending the 25-hour fast at the Kotel (Western Wall), Alyssa and her friends felt the emotional connection of togetherness and community when everyone left the Kotel dancing and singing arm in arm. “There is always someone to welcome you into the community of Israel,” says Alyssa. “In Israel, you can feel the warmmess of a community and the rich culture and history of our people. I loved every minute of my time in Israel and can’t wait to go back.”

Alyssa is a co-leader of the Jewish Student Union (JSU) here at SAAS. Alyssa’s advice to fellow students thinking about studying abroad: “Go outside of your comfort zone, be unique, take a risk. You will love it, no matter where you go.”

Photo of Seattle Academy Student Life Article Study Abroad Featuring Alyssa Boden '24

Alyssa (right) at the top of Masada after hiking up the widely known snake path.