Boca’s Katz Yeshiva High Students Travel To Guatemala


Students Thank Vice President and Guatemalan People For Moving Embassy To Jerusalem

Katz Yeshiva High School Students visit the historic Magen David Synagogue in Guatemala. (Courtesy: Katz Yeshiva High School Boca).

BOCA RATON, FL ( (Source: Katz Yeshiva High School) — Sixty-four seniors from Katz Yeshiva High School (KYHS) of South Florida, a Modern Orthodox coeducational yeshiva high school in Boca Raton, recently traveled to Guatemala to thank the country for moving its embassy to Jerusalem. In a show of appreciation, KYHS President Daniel Katz joined with student Shirel Garzon in presenting a plaque to Guatemalan Vice President Jafeth Cabrera.

The four-day trip also included political activism, religious exposure, volunteer service and experiential learning. Guatemala’s history with Israel and the Jewish people is very strong, as was explained by Israeli Ambassador to Guatemala Mattanya Cohen during the trip. In fact, as he said, in 1947 Guatemala was the second country to vote in favor of creating a Jewish homeland in Israel. Then, in 2017, Guatemala was the second country, and so far, the only other country besides the U.S., to move their embassy to Jerusalem.

Additionally, as the KYHS students witnessed, Guatemala has named numerous streets throughout Guatemala “Jerusalem the capital of Israel” and has also made Israel education a part of the curriculum in public school.

According to Daniel Katz, “Not only was it refreshingly beautiful to see the average person in Guatemala embrace us, it was a great experience for our KYHS students. I highly recommend this experience for other schools and all Jews to visit Guatemala, as they are our true friends.”

Rabbi Jonathan Kroll, Head of School at KYHS, added: “We wanted to impress upon our students just how important it is to express gratitude and to never take support of Israel for granted. We went to Guatemala to learn about the country and its people and we returned having learned so much about ourselves as well.” 

Highlights of the trip included:

  • KYHS students traveled to the National Palace where they met Vice President of Guatemala Jafeth Cabrera and his wonderful son, Jafeth Cabrera, Jr. Student Sara Deichman reflected, “As a member of a Zionist school, it is amazing for me to see everything I learn about and am passionate about put into practice. Guatemala isn’t Israel, but it sure is amazing to see a country so aligned with its values and the values I learn in school every day.”
  • Visiting the historic and beautiful Magen David Synagogue with Rabbi Sholom Pelman of Chabad and Ambassador Mattanya Cohen, Israeli Ambassador to Guatemala. According to Rabbi Pelman, Guatemala has been very supportive towards the Jewish people, but due to the lack of a major Jewish presence there, experiences like this are critical.
  • The students then headed to a local elementary school in San Jose Calderas where they spent time singing, dancing, playing sports, and engaging with the children. The KYHS students also painted classrooms, brightening up the school, and taught the children English. The students also on their own surprised the children with treats that were purchased at a local store.
  • They later had dinner with the pro-Israel Christian Golan Scout Troop, which featured a uniform emblazoned with both a Guatemalan and Israeli flag, further highlighting the Zionism of Guatemala. The scouts led the seniors in their prayers, games, and KYHS students taught the scouts some Hebrew chants.
  • Finally, the students hiked up Volcano Acatenango (at 12,000 feet of elevation) for seven-hours through inclement weather and staying overnight. The next day, they delivered gifts and supplies to a non-profit organization (NGO) temporary housing camp that housed victims of a volcanic eruption last year that destroyed their homes.

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