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High-School Students Cite 'Life-Changing' Israel Experience

Naale Elite Academy program brings Jewish students for three years of study in Israel; thousands of graduates remain.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 3/5/2014, 2:16 PM

High school student Aviv Gadi
High school student Aviv Gadi
Darryl Egnal

California teenager, Aviv Gadi, and Alex Hart from Wisconsin are two teenagers who have chosen to spend their last few years of high school with Naale. Gadi will graduate in June while Hart is in 11th grade this year.

The Naale Elite Academy program increases in popularity each year and more and more young Jewish teenagers are deciding to finish school in Israel rather than stay with what’s familiar to them.

“I came here open-minded, hoping to meet new people and experience new cultures, especially knowing I was coming into a place where there’s every type of person, every type of personality,” says Gadi. “It’s like a melting pot. And the boarding school is so different from anywhere else because there are Israelis here as well as kids from all over the world so we get that half and half. I think that it’s a great program and I really appreciate it because it gave me an opportunity that I don’t think I would’ve had in any other place.

“Naale is like a foundation for me. If I had come to Israel without a base, alone or even with my family, I think my experience would’ve been very, very different. I wouldn’t have had that surrounding, that place to start off, that place to grow,” she says.

Naale Elite Academy, a unique, exclusive, top quality Israeli high school program for Diaspora Jews, enables students to complete their last three years of high school in Israel while learning to be independent, self-sufficient and resilient. The program is co-funded by the State of Israel (the Israeli Ministry of Education) and the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the students receive a full scholarship with all expenses paid until they graduate. The program integrates these teenagers into various high schools around the country, ranging from co-educational to Religious Zionist and Haredi.

Hart loves the fact that she has friends from all over the world. “I’ve made all these great connections and learned to understand the real world. It’s nice to get a different view of a different world and different cultures and to be assimilated into that surrounding. I love the fact that I can fit myself into another culture.

“I think Naale is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The program does a really good job of setting us up and pointing us in the right direction, especially if your intent is to stay here in Israel. I think if you get the opportunity to come here and learn, then it’s probably something you should do. At least for the experience of being away and experiencing something new and different, and then you can continue with your life, wherever it may be.”

Thousands of Naale graduates from all over the Jewish world went on to higher education in Israel, became Israeli citizens and have helped to build up the country in various fields. They have brought their culture, background, experience and education to the people and the State of Israel, leaving their mark on a country that welcomes Jews from every corner of the world.

For more information, contact Ofer Dahan, Naale Elite-Academy director: Western World Region, on ofer@naale.org.il, or visit the Naale Elite Academy website.

Alex Hart of Wisconsin Darryl Egnal
New batch of students arrive for 2013-2014 school year Darryl Egnal