It was a record-breaking year for the Ezra graduates of 2023 who were able to go spend a gap year in Eretz Yisrael this year. As the staff and faculty celebrated the departures of 18 students to Israel to learn Torah this September, it was clear that Ezra Academy was growing significantly in their mission to help students develop and grow their foundation for a Jewish future.

After October 7 and the outbreak of war, it was unclear whether the year would transpire for these students as everyone would have hoped. Although it was understood that some families would not allow their children to remain learning in the midst of an uncertain and potentially dangerous situation, baruch Hashem the majority of students have stayed. Even the small minority that returned home in the initial phases of vulnerability have begun to return to their yeshivos. [The girls all stayed for the duration].

This past week, their principal, Sima Fish, visited Israel and arranged a reunion for almost all of her students and some other guests. She had the opportunity to catch up with all of the alumni and to hear about the tremendous experiences they are having at their yeshivot and seminaries. Each participant shared words of Torah and chizuk as well. Some explained how being in the land of the Avos has influenced them. Others shared how different events during the times of war have helped them take on new observances.

Special shout out to Adam Ilyasayev, who shared how inspired he was to wear tzitzis all the time after hearing stories of chayalim who took on the same mitzvah. Overall, it was a tremendous experience for the students and even more so for Ms. Fish.