Florence Meyers, originally from Seattle, WA, passed away five years ago when she was 100 years old. In 1955, just after Israel became a State, she and her husband, Julius Meyers, an immigrant from Romania, took their first trip to Israel. Not a religious woman, the moment she stepped off the plane she turned to her husband and remarked, “Honey, I’m home.”
Almost 70 years later, Chaya Ticker, a 23 year old from Brooklyn, NY had the same experience. “The first time I came to Israel, something resonated deeply,” Ticker said, “I knew I wanted to come back.”
No one visits Israel and leaves unchanged, but the cultural and language barriers can feel like an insurmountable hurdle to those wanting to settle, or even come for an extended visit to Israel.
That’s why it’s a no brainer for high school and university-age students from around the world, who want to come to Israel, to enroll in programs like Naale Elite Academy, a top-level, free high school, or Technion’s world-renowned American Medical Program.
Both Naale and Technion are designed for students from abroad and do their best to familiarize and integrate their students to Israeli society. At Naale high school, students study intensive Hebrew, tour the country, are in school with Israeli teens and are matched with host families. At Technion Medical Program, college students work in local hospitals and have access to top professors and doctors to gain insight into the medical field in Israel. Developing a familiarity with the language, culture and mentality play a huge role in their ability to be at ease in Israel.
After graduating high school from Naale, Ticker studied at Ulpan Segulah, did Sherut Leumi at ‘Lemaan Achai’ and then studied theater education at Michlelet Emunah. “Naaleh gave me the tools and confidence to integrate into Israeli society and become as independent as if I would have remained in my Beis Yaakov School in Brooklyn,” Ticker said. “Furthermore, after 10th grade, I was fully integrated in school with Israeli children, which was invaluable.’’
While the majority of Naale students stay in Israel, some return to their hometowns. Chaim Meyers, Director of Naale, said that over 90% of Naaleh graduates stay in Israel. “We are proud of every one of our graduates whether they stay in Israel or not,” Meyers stressed. “Those who make Aliyah become totally Israeli and those who go back home, become our best ambassadors, for Naale and Israel.”
Technion’s program also enables students return to the States to work and continue their medical career, but after spending four years in Haifa, given unparalleled hands-on opportunities to work with patients and Nobel Prize winning professors, some students choose to make Israel their permanent home.
Texas- born Shanan Marksman Avraham is in the midst of completing the Technion American Medical Program. “Studying at the Technion is giving me the opportunity to develop a deeper connection to the people and Land of Israel,” said Avraham. “As well as getting a top class education, I’m getting a top class Jewish experience, and even more, I met my wife here!”
“Students that come to study in Israel already have a deep connection and are seeking ways to learn more about Israel and possibly find a way to make a good living, and acclimate to the culture in Israel,” claimed Robert Lubin, Managing Director of Technion’s American Medical Program. “Our goal is to give them the knowledge and tools they need to build a life in Israel, if that’s what they are seeking.”
Having a good education and a strong support system goes a long way in enabling students to feel comfortable in Israel. Avraham feels that the research-based training gave him a considerable advantage for his future studies. “The evidence based research at the Technion is very strong and made studying here very worthwhile,” Avraham said. “The professors were supportive and warm and were always happy to help whenever I needed guidance.”
For teens like Chaya Ticker, Naale was the perfect transition to Israel. “If you want to integrate into Israeli society, then the earlier you come, the better. Naaleh is an excellent framework to see Israel in its most natural and real way.”