Tel Aviv basketball hero meets fans from his home country…Australia

January 3, 2014 by Sarah Vanunu
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Australian students have been treated to an exclusive  practice session of Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv basketball team…and met one of its stars,  Joe Ingles who hails from Adelaide.

Joe Ingles meets his Aussie fans

Joe Ingles meets his Aussie fans

The 90 students are currently attending the Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI) and were invited by the team’s Media Manager to be special guests at the team practice session at Nokia Arena, where they met the team’s star player, Joe Ingles.

Team coach, David Blatt, one of the most successful American coaches in European basketball, spoke to the students about the importance of their visiting Israel. The 10th and 11th grade high school students partook in an informal Q&A with Ingles, while waving Australian, Israeli and AMHSI flags  and joking about life in Israel versus Australia. One student asked Ingles where he buys his vegemite in Israel. An amused Ingles responded that he relies on family back home to bring it to him.

The Australian athlete has a solid fan club. Within 24 hours of a photo posted of the sportsman with the Australian students on the official Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball Facebook page, it had received over 1,000 ‘likes’ and a number of ‘shares’ and comments in both English and Hebrew. Ingles, not Jewish, spoke to the students about what it was like for him and his family getting used to the idea of living in Israel and being exposed to many of the positive aspects of life there, such as the beach, the food, and the shopping, as Ingles mentioned. “Basically, there’s a lot of great stuff going on here outside of ‘the conflict’ – which is unfortunately the only thing people back in Australia seem to get from the media,” said Ingles.

The lucky students are in Israel on 6-week study and tour programs during their summer vacation. The students are in two separate groups: 31 of them with BJE NSW (Board of Jewish Education, New South Wales), and 59 from Bialik College, Melbourne, Victoria.

The trips include, among the standard Israeli tourist attractions of riding camels in the Negev, visits to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tiberius, Eilat, Tzfat, Haifa, seeing the sunrise over the Judean Desert after the ascent up Masada, and also special highlights such as Bedouin hospitality, spending 3 days on an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) mock training program, and taking part in volunteer community service projects of “Tikun Olam” (repairing the world) in Israeli communities.

The “BJE Emet Israel” program, now in its 7th year of joint programming with AMHSI, is for year 10 students from public schools. This year, several participants have hailed from outside of NSW, with 2 from Victoria and 1 from Queensland.

This is the fourth year of the Bialik School “Chavayah” program in Israel with AMHSI.  The school made it compulsory for all students in the grade to participate. “The students have had an unbelievable time”, says the Head of Middle School at Bialik College, Mr Ian Poyser, who accompanied the students, “Being able to study history at the actual sites where history took place is an incredibly enriching experience, one that connects students to the land and to their heritage and identity on a deep physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual level.”

Due to popular demand, Alexander Muss High School in Israel (also known as AMHSI) has just announced that next summer (2014), they will be opening their doors to a new 6-week Israel program for Australian high school students in 10th-12th grades, irrespective of what school students attend. “This is groundbreaking news for the Australian market of Israel programming”, says Sarah Vanunu, former Sydney-sider, Moriah College alumna (2000) and Director of Marketing Communications at AMHSI. “Historically, Australian students have travelled to Israel on group trips, be it through their schools, youth movements or through BJE. Some decide to go on Birthright or Masa programs after high school. But what of all the individual students who don’t go to Jewish Day Schools or don’t attend youth movements? There are plenty of unaffiliated Jewish students around Australia, perhaps looking for a way to feel connected to Israel and to their Jewish identity, for whom the idea of an Israel trip should be very enticing,” says Vanunu, who also co-founded the non-profit Israeli organization Lapid – the Coalition for High School Age Programs in Israel. “Why delay the journey of a lifetime until after high school, when there are competing interests in life? During the teenage years, an educational trip like AMHSI can give direction to a young person’s life and point the way to a more meaningful future.”

AMHSI, founded in 1972, aims to promote, build, and strengthen lifelong bonds between youth and Israel through study of the history and culture of the people of Israel.  The school is well known for its model of programming for the North American market, wherein individual students from around the US participate on fully accredited study abroad programs for 8 weeks (mini semesters) or 4 months (full semesters), which AMHSI offers several times a year. This means students study their regular school studies in addition to an extensive Israel history curriculum that includes site visits to the places where Jewish history occurred. Participants earn high school credits and up to six college credits are available for eligible participants.

Noteworthy alumni among the 22,000 graduates include Reggae/Hip-hop musician Matisyahu; Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer; and Lauren Weisberger, author of “The Devil Wears Prada”.

The Australian students from Bialik College and BJE, return home from their trip, starry-eyed and energized from their Israel experience later this week.

Alexander Muss High School in Israel, a partner of Jewish National Fund and a member of the Lapid Coalition for High School Age Programs in Israel, is the only non-denominational, co-educational English language study abroad program for international high school students in Israel. AMHSI campuses are situated in Hod Hasharon and the Negev. To learn more, visit or contact Sarah Vanunu, Marketing Communications & PR Manager:  +972-545-474-306








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