Photo Credit: Naale at Yeshivat Shaalvim

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Naale program at Yeshivat Shaalvim, ten outstanding years that have produced graduates who are now active in all aspects of Israeli society, and grateful to have studied at Shaalvim.

The Naale program brings youth from throughout the world to Israel for high-school studies, providing them with a framework in which to connect with Israeli society in preparation for Aliyah, if they so choose, and a high-quality matriculation certificate that is accepted throughout the world. Sometimes, the students’ families follow their children in moving to Israel.


Yeshivat Shaalvim is a Naale program serving religious boys, with a curriculum combining religious, yeshiva studies with core subjects. The program runs from 9th-12th grade, with classes initially conducted in English while students study Hebrew intensively, and later, in Hebrew.

Rabbi Daniel Hershenson has been the coordinator of the Naale program at Shaalvim since its inception. “Shaalvim is an excellent program for students who want a superior yeshiva education, along with core studies leading to a high-quality matriculation certificate.”  He adds that: “Students come from throughout the Western world – the U.S.A., Latin and South America, Europe – we even had one student from Singapore. 85% of our graduates stay in Israel.”

Rabbi Hershenson notes that the program appeals to religious, Zionistic students who are seeking a meaningful connection to Israel and a Jewish education that may not be available (or perhaps not affordable) in their home countries. For families who see their future in Israel but don’t want to wait for the children to finish school before making Aliyah – Naale provides the perfect solution. The Shaalvim campus is located on a kibbutz in central Israel, and staff live on campus, thereby being easily available to students when necessary. Rabbi Hershenson emphasizes that very meaningful relationships are created between staff and students, which continue for years after they have graduated. Naale’s graduate coordinator helps the students who choose to remain in Israel integrate into the IDF, higher education, the job market, and more. Sometimes graduates return to Shaalvim to work as dorm counselors, in order to support the next generation of Naale students.

The Shaalvim program offers a wide range of matriculation tracks in the sciences and Israel studies, including agriculture and beekeeping – the latter extremely rare in Israel. Studies are very intensive, as they essentially combine two curricula. Daily prayers begin at 7:00 am, with classes continuing until 8:00 pm three days a week. Adam Bernitz, originally from South Africa, who graduated from Naale in 2016, says that the challenge of studying at Shaalvim helped him cultivate discipline, independence, confidence, and stress-reduction skills that will serve him for his entire life, as well as providing him with the social skills required to adapt to living with people from many different cultures. Currently studying in a double-track program in Sustainability Studies and Government at Reichman University (formerly the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center), Adam states: “Looking back, Shaalvim will always be the bedrock and foundation upon which all my successes in Israel rest. If the program weren’t so demanding, I wouldn’t have had the confidence, the sense of independence, or the where-with-all to achieve what I wanted to achieve in Israel. In order to not just survive, but to thrive in Israel, you need to know the language and the culture, and that is something that I gained at Shaalvim.”

Adam served in a combat unit in the IDF and, in addition to his studies, he is currently active in the field of counter-terrorism and an Israeli space program. He notes that, when he interviews for jobs, studies, etc., people are always amazed by the young age at which he came to Israel. “People are impressed that I came at 15 years old with three suitcases, the clothes on my back, one dream, completely on my own, to a foreign place which I knew was home.”

Shabbat and holidays are often special experiences at Naale. An on-campus Shabbat with all students occurs once a month, and is warm and haimish. On other Shabbatot or holidays, students can go to visit friends, relatives, or host families, or choose to stay on campus, where prayers take place and meals are provided. Adam: “Shabbat and chagim provided me with the opportunity to meet families from all over the country. I met advisors to prime ministers, ex-chief rabbis, people at the highest levels of intelligence, major writers in international newspapers… all sorts of people, and that was an incredible experience. Shaalvim provided a kaleidoscope through which I could view Israeli society through different angles and perspectives.”

Naale at Shaalvim also provides an excellent opportunity for integration with Israeli students, and, of course, with students from throughout the world – they eat together, study together, and live in the dorms together. This constitutes a basis for life-long friendships. Yagel Kabillio, from the U.S.A. and currently an 11th-grade Naale student at Shaalvim, emphasizes how much he loves meeting people from all over the world and establishing friendships with Israeli students. He notes that learning Hebrew is much easier when you’re interacting with Israelis, and that he also learned Spanish through living in the dorm with Spanish-speaking students.

Yagel followed his two older brothers, who were also Naale students at Shaalvim – one is currently in 12th grade there, and the other, after a stint as a dorm counselor, is now serving in the IDF. His brothers loved the program, and being from a religious family, it seemed to be a perfect fit. Yagel is currently studying in the agriculture track. His family is planning to follow their sons and make Aliyah, hopefully in the near future. He repeats Adam’s sentiments, saying that the Shaalvim program helped him to become responsible and disciplined.

In closing, Adam notes that he would definitely recommend Naale at Shaalvim to any student who is serious about seeking an excellent Jewish and general education, and enjoys meeting a challenge. His brother followed in his footsteps and became a Naale student at Shaalvim, and his family subsequently made Aliyah. He is certain that, without Naale, he would never have accomplished what he has. “I had to open the door to come to Naale, but Naale provided me with many keys to doors that wouldn’t be open today had it not been for my experience there.”

For more information about Naale at Shaalvim, please visit: 
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