web analytics
May 25, 2015 / 7 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


Aliyah at Sweet Sixteen

Dena was just on the cusp of turning 16 when her parents, both well-established professionals, made Aliyah from a major American metropolis.
F090804KG06

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon / FLASH90

As an education writer for the nonprofit organization, Kars for Kids, and as someone who made Aliyah from Pittsburgh 34 years ago, I decided to write about the challenges of aliyah from western countries with school age children. See the first piece in this series, A Shoutout to Olim with Kids.

Dena was just on the cusp of turning 16 when her parents, both well-established professionals, made Aliyah from a major American metropolis. Had Aliyah not intervened, Dena would have entered 10th grade at the Jewish day school in her city, with classmates she’d known all her life. One year later, Dena’s mother Rachel clued me in on the biggest obstacles to Dena’s absorption and education, how they’d tried to solve them, and where they were today.

V: So what’s the biggest obstacle you’ve encountered?

Rachel: Ah, that’s an easy one to answer because we’re in the thick of it right now: how to manage a “major” in high school with limited Hebrew fluency. We are looking at all possibilities toward a solution: independent study (not as simple as it sounds, apparently); private tutoring; learning the subject simultaneously in two languages; hoping and praying for Misrad HaChinuch to offer the test in English (but no one seems to be able to tell us if they will or won’t).

V: Okay, let’s flesh this out. What’s the major in question?

Rachel: At the moment, the best option for a major offered by the school is biology since there is so much material available in English out there. However, this is a difficult major that is proving hard for Dena partly because of language issues and partly because of her difficulty with the higher levels of thinking required by the way they test this subject here.

The school is suggesting she do a literature major but this seems to me to be even more difficult given the language issues. I’m just starting to hear about the possibility of doing an English Lit major but this will require, I believe, finding a teacher mentor that can guide her with this, someone proficient in English and in English literature.

V: How did you find tutors? Did the school offer them?

Rachel: We have largely found our own tutors via city-wide listservs or word of mouth. The school gave her some tutoring time last year (our first year) but the offerings were much more limited this year partially due to lack of English-speaking teachers who could help her. The teachers who helped her last year have left the school.

V: What about funding the tutors? Is this all out of pocket? Is this something that only someone with means could manage?

Rachel: Yes, all out of pocket. We were warned about this kind of expense and yes, it needs to be budgeted in by new olim.

V: It must be exorbitant! Sheesh.

Rachel: Well, thank goodness she is in a public high school and tuition payments are tiny.

V: It seems to me that this is the kind of thing that’s so unfair. Because if you come from a poor family, you have no way to succeed.

Rachel: NBN talks a lot about this issue and warns people. Previous olim also told us to be prepared. At any age, this is a major cost in making Aliyah.

V: How much are you paying out? Roughly?

Rachel: We are paying over 500 NIS a week some weeks. Just for tutors.

V: Oh MAN!

Rachel: . . .and with the addition of a bio teacher, it’s just gonna go up. But on the other hand, she did super well on her bagruyot last year so in my mind it was worth it and it’s still cheaper than tuition for day school in the States.

V: Good point about day school tuition. What were her scores last year?

Rachel: All above 90.

V: Wowee. She goes, Girl.

Rachel: Yep, we are super proud of her…lowest score was a 92 or something like that.

V: Amazing.

Rachel: Yep, I thought so.

V: What about socially? Has she managed with the language thing? Has she made friends?

Rachel: She has definitely made friends – doing much better socially than last year. We were at a city-wide fair last week and a bunch of girls stopped her to say hello. Just now at the [election] polls, another friend who was working the polls also stopped her to say hi. She participates in some youth group activities.

V: Cool. I’m so proud of her—proud of YOU.

Rachel: She uses a mixture of Hebrew and English to communicate with them and it seems to work—mostly Hebrew, with some English thrown in for those who understand it.

V: With the Internet, I think most Israeli children have been forced to learn some English.

Rachel: Some of the kids in her class are fluent English speakers either from home or have learned on their own. Most of her friends are those taking 5 units [highest level of study] of English.

Anyway, this issue of a major is proving to be a difficult one to solve, but it’s just reared its ugly head and we are just now trying to get a handle on it

V: Rachel, thanks so much for telling us about Dena’s progress. With your permission, I’d like to check back with you and see how she’s doing. I’ll keep my readers posted on her progress.

Rachel: Sure. Thanks for listening. I guess we just have to keep on keeping on, as they say.

Feel free to write me: Varda at kars4kids dot org and I will share your stories here in this space, anonymous or attributed as you prefer.

 

About the Author: Blogger and mother of 12 Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program, Kars for Kids.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Aliyah at Sweet Sixteen”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israeli-flag
A Palestinian State in the West Bank – World Hypocrisy
Latest Blogs Stories
Audience at Israel Day Concert

The warnings came true: Among the 1000 released terrorists, many returned to terror activity

Rabbi Levinger (zt"l)

Torah is to be lived. Rabbi Moshe Levinger was a completely living Torah, the Torah of Eretz Yisrael

Tadmor - Yerushalmi

“Said Rabbi Yochanan: Happy are those who see the fall of Tadmor…” (Talmud Yerushalmi)

Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi is looking to come home to the Likud he abandoned a few years ago.

Why has Prime Minister Netanyahu given Erdan & Hanegbi insultingly low-level cabinet appointments?

Without Israel, the Jewish People are scattered nomads lacking Torah’s true national grandeur&power

Will it get better/worse for Bibi or does the wily Bibi know/plan something that will shock us all?

Dr. Vernon Smith, 2002 Economics Nobel Prize winner, on predicting housing markets & economic issues

100% of the ‘First Responders’ helping those Arab school girls were Jewish and they didn’t hesitate!

Women equalizing with men in all areas of Judaism is anathema to the very idea of male/female roles.

Bibi endorsing the “2 State Solution” endangers Israel, moving the policy Center-Right from far Left

Dear Opposition Members… You seem confused… Let me clear it up for you… You lost.

A tribute to Jerusalem by its finest troubador, David Herman.

Do the food giants really care about our health? Are consumers now eating healthier food?

If other pleasures exceed the joy we feel for Jerusalem, then something is wrong with our Judaism.

There will be peace when we listen to G-d and do want he tells us to do – all for our very own good.

We will celebrate and thank the L-rd for our blessings, determined to truly liberate our Holy sites

More Articles from Varda Meyers Epstein
faith leaps

For coexistence, Jews (& everyone) must draw a line in the sand showing “This is where we part ways”

American-Jews-100413

How do you put a love of Judaism into a middle-aged man when it was never there in the first place?

Only Bibi has the sort of leadership qualities we need to get us through this perilous time.

Come live in Israel-make us stronger and live unashamedly JEWISH in our God-given land. We need you.

“I don’t think my kids have any difficulties that are specific to the Israeli school system.”

The universities and the local progressive culture make Pacific Northwest a hotbed of Israel hatred.

Finding Tekhelet is about fulfilling an ancient mitzvah that was there the whole time.

While tekhelet is a biblical commandment, it’s one full of “buts” that bring me up short.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/ear-to-the-ground/aliyah-at-sweet-sixteen/2013/10/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: