“Here’s a mattress – now build your own bed!”
This is what ACE students are told when they arrive at Moshav Tarom a small Moshav near Bet Shemesh, Israel, their campus and home for the year.
Rabbi Alter Klein, a New York NCSY alumnus, recognized that there was a “severe need for a program for kids who were not doing great in the regular school system, and the alternatives really didn’t speak to everyone. For a kid who wasn’t willing to go along with the system there were no alternatives,” says Klein. Because these students do not fit in well with regular schooling methods, they oftentimes end up on a downward path or just drop out of school altogether. So, he created ACE (Adventure, Challenge and Education), a unique fusion of thrill-seeking adventures—such as jumping off a 50 foot bridge into a body of water, Torah learning, and warm, supportive counselors. With a diverse combination of interactive Limudei Kodesh, GED and SAT preparation, wilderness education, chessed and therapeutic services, you have a guaranteed recipe for success.
It may seem wild to expect 15-20 year-old boys to build their own beds as soon as they step off the plane in a foreign country, but Rabbi Alter Klein, a Queens, NY native and the mastermind behind the unique Yeshiva/boot camp/wilderness program called ACE, believes that “if a boy builds his own bed, he will respect it a lot more than if he his just given a bed.” The same is true for the aron kodesh and bookcases in the shul. “Kids feel a sense of pride and respect every time they walk by because they helped build the school,” says Klein.
Rabbi Klein grew up secular and attended the Bronx High School of Science. It was only after participating in Israel Summer Seminar (ISS), NCSY’s precursor to what is now the well-known public school summer program The Jerusalem Journey (TJJ), that he had “the best summer of [his] life” and started getting involved with New York NCSY as a high school senior.
Rabbi Klein’s involvement with the OU did not stop with NCSY. Klein worked for OU Israel after moving to Jerusalem in 1990 and continued working as a JLIC campus rabbi at William Patterson University in New Jersey in 2000.
It was inevitable that after majoring in Archaeology of Israel at the University of Arizona and spending a semester abroad at Tel Aviv University that Klein would eventually make aliyah, which he did, officially, in 1993.
With his passion for life and caring nature towards his students, it is no surprise that Klein’s program has a success rate of close to 100%!
(Click here to watch a video about ACE.)