BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Bloomfield Hills High School junior Ruby Bagdade studied abroad for seven weeks thanks to the Jewish National Fund Impact Fellowship and the Alexander Muss High School in Israel.
"It was a really... Really amazing experience. We had regular classes that I would have taken at my home school but we also had extensive Israeli studies class which I think was the high light of the program,” Ruby Bagdade, a junior at Bloomfield Hills High School.
The four month program prepares 160 students from around the world to be ambassadors of Israel and the Jewish people once the program is completed.
But while Ruby, her fellow classmates and staff were in the holy city of Jerusalem for Simchat Torah, a Jewish holiday, they were woken up by the sound of air raid sirens.
The peaceful trip took a turn that no one was expecting.
“That morning we were supposed to have services. But we woke up to sirens,” Bagdade said.
There were sirens for probably four hours on and off.
The group had to make several trips to the bomb shelter in the hotel. Counselors and staff told the students they would be safe. They weren't worried at first but, "Once we saw the IDF was declaring a state of war and that it was more complicated than we thought that's when the fear started to set in,” Bagdade said. “It was scary not knowing what we were going to do in a country of war.”
Many of the staff on the trip were in the IDF reserves and were called up for active duty.
They made their way back to campus outside of Tel Aviv.
Once back on campus, the students wanted to help.
Ruby and others brainstormed and got supplies and made over 1600 care packages for families impacted by the attacks and raised over $117,000.
"We wrote notes and it really helps to know that we were able to connect with people that were struggling,” said Bagdade. "We're really just trying to advocate for Israel and all the people who got hurt and make sure people are aware of everything that happened and not just letting it fall on the back burner."
If you would like to help Ruby and her group continue to raise money for those in Israel impacted by the attacks, click here.
**Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly named the high school. We have since corrected the error.