Photo Credit: Darryl Egnal
Boys from Sha’alavim Religious Boys’ School celebrate their arrival in Israel through song and dance. Sha’alavim is one of the schools participating in the Naale Elite Academy program.

Israel has long been a country that shares its brainpower. While many of its sharp minds end up living and working on foreign soil, there are as many who move to Israel bringing their own intellect and education into the country. Some feel there is a brain drain from here to the “other side”, but the brain gain balances the story.

Israel is legendary for its achievements in many fields. Over the past decade, Israelis have won seven Nobel prizes, six for chemistry, and been nominated numerous times. Israel is known as the country that has the highest number of start-up companies after the United States and innovative start-ups are being bought for millions of dollars by major global organizations that are looking to Israel to expand their options. Non-profits that are, literally, repairing the world, abound in this part of the world and the country is filled with immigrants, volunteers and academics.

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More and more young people are choosing to study in Israel. There are many reasons for this, but the high level of education is one of the main motivations. Many come to Israel after graduating from high school, but there is also an enormous pool of youngsters who have put their faith in Israel and have decided to finish high school here.

For Dutch teenager, Naomi Hammelburg, attending the Naale Elite Academy program has enabled her to realize this dream. She has spent the past two years at Mosenson High School in Hod Hasharon – one of the schools participating in Naale – on a full scholarship that has changed her life.

Hammelburg was born in Israel to Dutch parents. Her mother decided to return to Doorwerth in The Netherlands when she was very young, but they visited Israel on a regular basis. Throughout the years of visiting the country, she grew more and more attached to the possibility of a life here. When she was given the chance to finish high school in Israel, she jumped at it.

Integrating young Diaspora Jews with their Israeli counterparts

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 with Israeli students 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.

Hammelburg’s experience of Judaism in Israel is very different from what she experienced at home. “I didn’t go to a Jewish school and I didn’t have any Jewish friends. At Mosenson, I’ve made really great friends. My group is very close. They’re like family. What’s so great is that I have friends from all over the world and I hang out with Israelis as well.”

Naale Elite Academy is a microcosm of Israeli society, a real mixture of young people from different countries, cultures and outlooks. Last year’s intake included about 160 youngsters from 26 countries on five continents.

The program integrates these teenagers into various high schools around the country, ranging from co-educational to Religious Orthodox and Haredi.

A popular and different challenge

Developing highly skilled individuals will have a significant impact on the Israeli economy, higher education, research and the society in general, and those who run the organization understand the role the program plays and take its mission seriously.

Naale Elite Academy has a very comprehensive testing process to ensure that only students who will be able to cope with all aspects of being away from their parents, and have strong academic ability, maturity and independence levels, and psychological aptitude are accepted.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like a great way for some Jews in the diaspora to eventually make aliyah. Others will have a life long experience and get to know Israel first hand. Sounds GREAT!!

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