Portman's parents met at a Jewish student center at Ohio State University, where her mother was selling tickets. They corresponded after her father returned to Israel and were married when her mother visited a few years later. In 1984, when Portman was three years old, the family moved to the United States, where her father received his medical training. Portman, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, has said that although she "really love[s] the States. . . my heart's in Jerusalem. That's where I feel at home. " Portman and her family first lived in Washington, D. C. , but relocated to Connecticut in 1988 and then moved to Jericho, New York, on Long Island, in 1990. While living in the Washington, D. C. area, Portman attended Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland. Portman learned to speak Hebrew while living on Long Island and attended a Jewish elementary school, the Solomon Schechter Day School of Nassau County in Jericho, New York. She graduated from Syosset High School in Syosset, Long Island in 1999. She studied ballet and modern dance at the American Theater Dance Workshop in New Hyde Park, New York, and attended the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts in Wheatley Heights, both on Long Island. Portman skipped the premiere of her film Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, so she could study for her high school final exams.