For some young people making the decision to make Aliyah to Israel can involve a long and laborious process, while others have always known they want to make Israel their home and are ready to go the moment it becomes possible. In either case, many questions arise while planning such a change, especially if you, like most people, have a limited budget and financial concerns. Luckily, there are some programs who can ease the process and offer financial aid.
While people still make Aliyah the “traditional” way through the Jewish Agency or through Nefesh b’ Nefesh in North America, there are now also numerous Aliyah programs that can help assist new immigrants with the process.
One of the programs that can help ease the Aliyah process - for families with teenagers - is Naale Elite Academy, an international educational program that enables Jewish teenagers from the Diaspora to study and complete their high school education in Israel with a full scholarship at one of a number of select boarding schools. Assistance and guidance is also provided for those wishing to remain in Israel upon completion of their studies, making it a good option for families planning Aliyah.
The program is not only an educational framework of excellence, but also includes a strong component of social and financial support for the student built into the system, explained Ravid Meron, Naale Regional Manager for The United Kingdom and French speaking countries.
A fully subsidized program
The entire program is funded by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency. It is fully subsidized—including the airfare to Israel at the beginning of the program, room and board, off-campus travel expenses and all class trips. The students also receive a monthly stipend for spending money, paid health insurance, an all-important Israeli SIM card for their phones so they can easily stay in touch with their families and friends back home, and also monthly bus passes as well. The only costs of the program for the parents from the start are the one-time application fee prior to the screening, and then once accepted, a one-time acceptance fee.
At first, students may tend to spend the stipend early in the month, but with time they learn to budget themselves, said Meron.
Indeed, the high school education in Israel experience with Naale is not only an academic experience but also a life skills experience as students learn how to budget their money and make smart choices.
“It is a learning process to budget their money,” said Meron. “It takes a few months, but they get there.”
“In Naale - students connect to their Jewish and Israeli roots”
Naale high schools in Israel are a solution for parents who want their children to get an excellent Jewish education —whether in a religious or general setting, she said. For example, like in many countries Jewish schools in France are very expensive and the costs can be prohibitive for Jewish parents. So they send their children to the public schools where Jewish students don’t have the opportunity of connecting to their Jewish roots and can sometimes even experience bullying because they are Jewish.
“At Naale they have the chance to connect to their Jewish and Israeli roots, in a very safe environment, in excellent academic programs which are all tuition-free for the families,” said Meron.
These days, sending a child to school not only includes the academic learning but also extracurricular activities which sometimes can become a financial burden on parents, she noted. But with Naale, receiving a high school education in Israel also means the opportunity to take part in a variety of different extra-curricular activities of the student’s choice—all paid as part of the Naale package.
Naale will also consider supporting students in their participation of other outside activities if they demonstrate special skill in that area and do well in their academic studies, said Meron. Such was the case of one student from the United States who studied at Ayanot Youth Village. Prior to his arrival, he played ice hockey at a semi-professional level and wanted to continue with the sport in Israel (yes, Israel even has ice-hockey!). After he proved himself academically, Naale and Ayanot arranged for him to join as a player in Israel’s ice hockey league, making sure he was able to get to the twice weekly practices. His team went on to win the national league, said Meron.
Israel’s absorption basket benefits
Students who choose to make Aliyah are eligible for an absorption basket from the Israeli government, though they will have received some of their rights as a Naale student. The basket includes a financial grant to help them get started with their lives in Israel. Those students who opt not to make Aliyah when they turn 18, return to their home countries after graduation with memories of their unique time in Israel, a high school diploma recognized worldwide and can continue their studies at prestigious universities in their home country.
Those making Aliyah as Naale students when they turn 18, do so as a group, and are required to fulfill the army or national service required as Israeli citizens. The Naale Administration supports and accompanies them, starting in 12th grade, helping them navigate through the enlistment process and helping them communicate with the IDF when needed.
Naale graduates making Aliyah at 18, are also eligible for subsidized undergraduate tuition in Israeli universities upon completion of their army service.
The connection with students does not end upon graduation and Naale has a special department for all alumni, and helps them with questions and concerns in the army and also upon discharge. An alumni forum also is very active in helping each other out.
“We remain a family even after graduation,” said Meron.
For more information: Naale Elite Academy.
This article was written in cooperation with Naale