A new high school for religious English-speaking youth will open in Jerusalem's Bayit Vegan neighborhood in September, 2008. Rabbi David Samson, noted author and educator, is founding the new program and accepting 9th and 10th-grade boys in the first year.

The program, called Yerushalayim Torah Academy (YTA), answers an overwhelming demand of many new immigrant families who are concerned about their children's integration into the Israeli yeshiva (religious) high schools.

The Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN) organization has brought thousands of new immigrants from English-speaking countries over the past few years. NBN's Advisor for Education, Avi Silverman, counsels parents before, during, and many years after their aliyah (immigration to Israel) to ensure that their children find suitable frameworks.

Silverman met with the YTA administrators and says that an English-speaking yeshiva high school can be a key factor in facilitating successful aliyah. While he maintains that there is a high success rate of integration into Israeli frameworks for 9th and 10th-grade new immigrants, there are, he says, many individual cases and factors for which an English-speaking framework can make the difference.

The mere announcement of the school has impacted Jewish families preparing for aliyah. One of the first applications to YTA came from a couple in New Jersey who had put their aliyah plans on hold since there was no high school solution for their son. If their son is accepted to YTA, they will be on a flight to Israel this summer.

Another two families that made aliyah and left their teenage boys in yeshiva high schools in the US, are thrilled at the new initiative. One of those boys already flew to Israel to interview for YTA and is happy about the prospect of being reunited with his family.

YTA will offer a full GED program, and a full Israeli bagrut (high school diploma). The goal of the YTA founders is that by the end of 12th grade, all the graduates will continue to Israeli yeshivas and programs, and become a thriving part of Israeli society.

In the 9th grade, the language of instruction for all studies except Ulpan (Hebrew class) will be in English. Each day one class in religious studies will be conducted in easy Hebrew. Each successive year, additional classes in Hebrew will be added as the students improve their Hebrew skills.

While there is competition for each place in the new school, the administration is still accepting applicants.

Click here for more information or contact YTA Principal Bezalel Borstein [email protected]

YTA Dean Rabbi David Samson taught at the prestigious Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva High School for 18 years and founded a network of programs for high school youth at risk, including the Lech Lecha jeep study program.