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The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


HBHA Alumni Staff Nativ Israel Program


Nativ is a gap-year college leadership program in Israel affiliated with the conservative movement. The Nativ program allows recent high school graduates to live in Israel for the year, attend academic university classes, intensive Hebrew classes, experience leadership training, and Israeli culture. Most participants were active in United Synagogue Youth (USY) in their high school career or attended Camp Ramah. This year, Nativ staff is fortunate to have two Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy graduates, Elana Goldberg and David Helfand.

elana & david
Photo provided by Elana Goldberg. Elana Goldberg (left) and David Helfand can’t wait for a great year staffing Nativ.

Elana Goldberg graduated from HBHA in 2010 and then from Boston University in 2014. Goldberg has a great deal of experience participating and leading different Israel programs. Goldberg spent the second semester of her college junior year abroad at the University of Haifa, and in the summer of 2013 she staffed Ramah Seminar. Ramah Seminar is Camp Ramah’s summer Israel program for campers going into their senior year of high school. Goldberg mentioned that on Ramah Seminar she “enjoyed taking the campers to different sites and educating them about Judaism, Israel and leadership.”

This past summer, Goldberg staffed a Taglit-Birthright trip for college age participants. “Taglit-Birthright was a very different approach due to the much shorter length of the program and the participants were no more than three years younger than me and some were even my same age. Most of the participants had never been to Israel before and very few had backgrounds in Jewish Education. Therefore my role was extremely important because I had the opportunity to help them strengthen their Jewish identity, which is one of the main goals of Taglit-Birthright,” Goldberg said.

On staffing Nativ this year, Goldberg stated “I am very excited for the year to begin and see what the Nativers (participants of the program) will accomplish during this next year in Israel.”

David Helfand graduated from HBHA in 2009 and American Jewish University in 2014. Helfand has staffed several USY summer trips in the past and was also a Nativ participant. Reflecting on his time on Nativ Helfand said, “It was the most advantageous and rewarding experience of my life. It is a year where I grew in maturation, independence as well as a Jewish leader. I am so grateful to be able to staff this program and help my Nativers grow as much as I did and appreciate the incredible country that they will live in.”

As Madrichim (counselors) on the Nativ program this year, Golberg and Helfand are the support system for the Nativers. They are also motivators for Nativers’ academics and have the chance to explore Israel with them. Second semester, Helfand is in charge of organizing community service jobs for the participants in the South while Goldberg will travel to the North and organize community service opportunities for Nativers, as well.

Both Goldberg and Helfand are excited to be working with one another on Nativ as fellow alumni of HBHA. Goldberg mentioned, “It is truly amazing that the two American staff for Nativ this year are not only from Kansas City but also are both HBHA alumni. David and I took Hebrew together at HBHA and now we are staffing a program in Israel together. It truly shows the success of HBHA and I am very proud of the education I received there.”

Helfand also remarked, “It is great that Kansas City is being put on the map for Nativ this year. It is a huge success of the HBHA for instilling leadership qualities and Jewish pride. We both are doing what we love because of the love that HBHA provided us and so many other students.”

The Nativers arrived in Israel on 2 Sept. and Goldberg and Helfand are ready to begin an amazing year in Israel with them.


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