Alyssa Wallack ’16
“While looking back at my time learning at Sinai Akiba, I realize that all the teachers created a ‘love for Israel’ environment,” shared Alyssa Wallack ’16. “This is definitely where my deep feelings for Israel originated.” Wallack, who is the 2020 Lisa and Benjamin Nissanoff Israel Advocacy Alumni Award
winner, attributes her love of Israel to her eighth-grade trip.
“Sinai Akiba is one of the only schools that have an 8th grade trip to Israel. I felt that Sinai Akiba provided me with a first-hand experience being in the land I learned about, instilling a deep love and appreciation for Israel,” she said. Following this trip, Alyssa made sure to actively participate in Israel advocacy at Shalhevet High School.
“The year I graduated from Sinai Akiba happened to be the most difficult year to get accepted to Shalhevet. Shalhevet had just completed construction on their new campus, and there were many more applicants than spaces. I remember my concern about students applying from other yeshivot, and how prepared I was to take on their curriculum,” Alyssa shared. “The education I received at Sinai Akiba was unparalleled, and definitely had me on par or better than what my peers had at other schools. I honestly feel that there is no better school than Sinai for a pre-high school education.”
In her freshman year at Shalhevet, Alyssa became deeply involved in Firehawks for Israel, helping to spread awareness about the importance of a Jewish state. Alyssa has been committed to learning about the history of Israel and studying the psychology behind the Palestinian Conflict. Taking advanced Israel Education courses have empowered Alyssa in countering the strategies of the anti-Zionist movement. Alyssa has also been active in AIPAC and recently participated in their annual conference in Washington D.C., further cementing her pro-Israel values.
Now that Alyssa has graduated from Shalhevet, she has been accepted into the University of Southern California as a trustee scholar starting in fall 2022. While there, she plans to join and take a leadership role at the Hillel and other clubs that combat BDS on campus. “I also plan to attend AIPAC every year and continue engaging in conversations with others who agree and disagree with my personal Zionist stance on the state of Israel.”
But first, Alyssa is going to take part in the Bar Ilan Israel XP gap year program, which allows students to participate in college courses in Israel. “They offer both Judaic and general studies courses that I plan to fully engage in,” she shared, adding, “This will strengthen my relationship with Israel and allow me to grow religiously and personally.
“This year in Israel will make me more motivated to participate in Israel advocacy on the USC campus, as I will have a stronger connection to the land. USC is one of the universities that do not accept transfer credits from this program, however, that will allow me to focus on choosing the courses that I feel will better prepare me to articulate a pro-Israel conversation while still being empathetic of all the underlying issues.