Context: This testimony given by SS is a former Los Angeles high-school student who shared with me her reflections on a semester spent in Israel as part of a 10th grade educational program. Her testimony sheds light on the programs commitment to the students safety, and their willingness to use realistic stories to deter the kids on the trip from misbehaving.

Text: “At my high school in 10th grade you can apply to a program and spend your second semester of 10th grade in Israel. And because there’s a lot of freedom given on the trip and you are at such a young age, there’s a strong emphasis on not being able to drink or smoke or do anything like that. When we went out we would need to be chaperoned by a madrichim which was a live-in councilor for the trip. This was always a rule but we were told it became more strongly enforced after an incident that allegedly occurred more than 5 years prior to when I went. Certain weekends would be referred to as open shabbat because you would have the option to stay with a nearby family in Israel, and a girl during this free weekend drank and got alcohol poisoning and needed to have her stomach pumped at a local hospital. As a result of her actions, she was supposedly kicked off of the program and had to immediately go home. Looking back I think they only told us this story to keep us in check and scare us out of doing anything crazy” 

Analysis: I believe the purpose of this testimony serves as a cautionary tale, aiming to teach a lesson through the consequences that the alleged girl who got alcohol poisoning suffered through. The alcohol poisoning serves as a warning to other students about the health risks of engaging in the prohibited behaviors, whilst the girl being kicked off of the trip works to further deter students from following in her actions, as that would result in them being flown back to Los Angeles from Israel and presumably additionally failing the semesters classes.  At its heart, I believe it serves as a mechanism for social control which works particularly well amongst the high schooler demographic, especially when paired with the aim to establish the authority of the madrichim by painting them out to be both guardians of the students and enforcers of the program’s rules.