To Tif or Not to Tif: That is the Question


Britt Jacobson

Spotlight Editor

I’m going on Tiferet. I’ve been looking forward to – actually, scratch that – dreaming about it since my older sister went in 2010. That’s five years of anticipation, excitement, and decisions. There was almost an unspoken agreement with my parents that I would be going no matter what, even when the price of the trip increased and the turmoil began to rise in Israel. They are Israeli, so there wasn’t really any concern that I wouldn’t be safe. That’s why when several students dropped or considered dropping out of the program, I was shocked.

One of the most recent acts of terror that occurred in Jerusalem was when two armed Palestinian men stormed a temple, resulting in the death of five people. (Read more here.)This and other acts of terror are indisputably horrifying, but it’s not exactly news that there is tension in the Middle East. Is this attack enough to determine Israel too dangerous of a place for students? Why only now is there a change of heart? That’s why when the recent panic regarding safety in Israel caused several students to drop out of the program, I was shocked.

When comparing intentional homicide rates between Israel and Los Angeles, LA’s 7.7 per 100,000 is significantly greater than Israel’s 1.8 per 100,000 (according the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2012 data). In terms of this statistic, Israel is evidently safer than LA. In fact, when talking about this topic with adults that work at my temple, who have been to Israel, they simply laughed and remarked that they would feel more protected in Israel than here in LA. After going through Israel’s airport security, I would have to agree. I also know that I personally feel better knowing that the Iron Dome defense system is in place and working effectively.

However, not everyone who dropped out of Tiferet did so for security reasons. Sammy Behar ‘17 said that many factors influenced her decision. She felt that she was not “going for the correct reasons”, as she was only going “not to feel left out”. Her choice to drop out was not influenced by safety: “I am 100% sure they would keep us safe and nothing is going to happen to the fellows,” she said.

I personally made the decision to remain in the program, and I have no intention of dropping out unless the trip gets canceled. I know that Tiferet is the right choice for me, for many reasons. One is that I have family that lives in Israel and this gives me time to see them. Tiferet will also give me the education that I feel like I’m currently missing on Israel’s history, as well as a first-hand experience living in the country, which is not something I’m certain I will be able to do later on in life. I love the idea that I get to spend a semester abroad in high school, as this is an experience that you typically only get in college.

All I can say is make sure that you’re going with the right intentions. If your friends dropping out makes you uneasy, then maybe reconsider. This is four months in another country, and so you want to make sure you feel 100% about your decision beyond who’s going or not.

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Am I ready to leave my life here for four months?
  • What am I missing in LA during that time? Is that more important than the experience I’ll get on Tiferet?
  • If none of my friends were going, would I still want to go?
  • What’s holding me back?

There will be a security briefing at the Upper School Beit Midrash for a presentation and Q + A, this upcoming Monday, December 8th at 7 pm. Mr. David Siegel, the Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles will be present to meet with parents and students. There will also be a video conference call with Alexander Muss leadership for more specific security measures.

I will be at this meeting, not because I have any doubts about my safety in Israel, and not because I need something to reassure me. I will be there, first of all because I like being well informed about anything I participate in, Tiferet included. I will also be there as a support for friends who don’t know exactly what they want to do yet. Decisions are tough, but luckily, I knew exactly what I wanted from the start: to go on Tiferet. What do you want?

If you want more reassurance on your decision to go, read my first Tif Top Ten Article: Reasons to Go.