Updated: Sep 18
Max Hirsch and Aron Shklar
Staff Writer and World News Editor
As COVID-19 continued to spread throughout the world in May, our sophomore class had a single major question in mind: “Will Muss be delayed for us? Or worse, cancelled entirely?” Muss is a study-abroad trip that most Barrack juniors take. They learn at Alexander Muss High School in Israel for almost all of the first trimester of school, with a hallmark experiential Israel studies curriculum. After almost three months of worry, the sophomores finally received the news. In an email sent at the start of June, the Class of 2020 learned that we would not spend the fall in Israel, and that our Muss session would be postponed to the third trimester of our senior year.
Muss was something that I, Max Hirsch, have been looking forward to since my brother Ari went five years ago. I remember visiting Ari in Israel and seeing an unbreakable bond within his grade. Everyone was constantly encouraging and cheering each other on, and kids that I’d never seen or heard of before were my brother’s great friends. It was like they were inseparable, having little care for their families coming to visit them. Ari described Muss as the “catalyst” for their grade’s bond, and as a sixth grader at Barrack, I envied this. My grade had a bunch of new kids at the time and didn’t really have a connection to each other. A lot of kids never even talked to some of their classmates and had these preconceived notions of them, something I was sure would change and develop at Muss. When my sister went on Muss a few years later, my excitement grew exponentially. Seeing that this experience worked for everyone and all types of people, I was absolutely psyched and had little to no doubts about the program. All of this pent up anticipation and enthusiasm within me made the postponement of Muss truly heartbreaking. Another junior who feels a similar way is Isaac Klein ‘22, who said, “Muss was what we’ve all been looking forward to for the past couple of years and it was tremendously disappointing to hear the news of the postponement. I was anticipating an amazing and meaningful trip with many memories that’ll ultimately shape me.”
However, despite the crushing disappointment of Muss being postponed, there are some benefits for the rising juniors. For example, they can get a head start on parts of the SAT and college application process. This is a benefit because otherwise they would be starting their college and SAT process while also coping with schoolwork, commutes, and their return from Muss. A second benefit is that, when Muss does happen in 2022, the current juniors will hopefully be able to appreciate their time there even more, as they will have waited more than an extra year to go. A third benefit is that because Muss is replacing the senior service for 2022, the juniors will have less stress and work on their minds while there. This is because most, if not all, will have received their acceptance letters from colleges, and as such will have an enormous load lifted from their shoulders. They’ve also been told by Dr. Darin Katz, former Director of the Upper School, that they will not be given as much work as previous years of Muss, and will have fewer classes in general while there. As Jacob Kopelman ‘22 says, “Part of me was upset that the trip we were all looking forward to was postponed, but at the same time, I was relieved that we wouldn’t need to worry about COVID-19 during our trip.
Although, perhaps Muss in 12th grade could be better, as now we will have a fun last trip as a grade before we all go in different directions.” As he pointed out, going on Muss at the end of 12th grade has another major benefit: it will be one last celebration for the seniors, before they all go their separate ways in life. However, there are of course multiple cons to Muss being postponed.
One of these cons, and perhaps the largest one, is that the juniors have to wait even longer for a trip they’ve been expecting for many years. Something else is that the 10th graders might now actually go on their Muss trip before the juniors take theirs. Overall, though, when you look at the cons of the postponement of Muss, there really aren’t all that many.
In the end, the juniors still expect to go on Muss in spring of their senior year. They looked forward to it for so long, and now that excitement must be held over for more than an additional year. There are many pros to the postponement, as well as cons, but in the end, the Muss trip will still be scheduled to happen in 2022.