Jake Fogel, 15, plans to attend the Mosenson Boarding School as part of the Elite Academy Program for three years. His room and board, medical insurance, pocket money, stipend for travel within Israel and a budget for phone calls back home are all included.
Fogel was accepted earlier this month at the school, which is co-funded by the state of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
"I've always liked Israel," said Fogel, who has traveled to Israel before and was accepted after an extensive application and interview process. "It felt really great because I honestly didn't expect to get in. I was really nervous."
According to his father, Bill Fogel, only 10 to 15 other Americans were accepted.
At the Mosenson Boarding School, a secular school about 10 miles from Tel Aviv, Fogel will take typical classes such as math, biology and social sciences, while learning to speak Hebrew. After his first year, the remainder of his classes will be taught in Hebrew.
"I've always loved languages," Fogel said. "I want to be able to communicate with as many people as I can."
Fogel said he always wanted to attend school in the Middle East and is interested in learning Arabic, too.
This program also seemed to fit with his experience at Maine-based Seeds of Peace, which brings young people from places of conflict around the world to a summer camp in Otisfield, where they learn to bridge differences through dialogue and communication. The conflict in the Middle East is a huge point of emphasis at the camp, which opened in 1993.
Fogel attended the camp the summer before high school. His older sister, Mikhalia, a freshman at Harvard University this year, had also gone as a young teenager, and his mother, a doctor, was a volunteer at the camp. The family belongs to Temple Bet Ha'am, a Reform temple in South Portland.
"I think I've learned lessons at Seeds of Peace that I can use there," Fogel said. "I thinks it's always good to have two sides of a story." He said he may even want to start a Seeds of Peace club at his new school.
In a way, it was Seeds of Peace that led him to Elite Academy. He learned about the program while visiting a Seeds of Peace friend in Israel this past April.
Fogel began his high school career at Deering High School, but got a concussion during football season and transferred to Portland High School, where it would be easier to complete his classes because of their class schedule.
At Portland he was on the lacrosse and wrestling teams, and he plays the guitar and piano.
"There are things I am definitely going to miss," Fogel said. "I've had some great coaches who have taught me lessons I'm going to take to Israel."
He's interested in learning more about conflict resolution, particularly at ethical and religious conflicts.
"If we can solve issues in the Middle East, we can solve them anywhere," he said. "I'm really excited to bring what I learn there back to the United States. I think it will help me be a better citizen of my country."
Staff Writer Ellie Cole can be contacted at 791-6359 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org