An all-expenses-paid educational program for Jewish high school students sponsored by the Israeli government recently opened an office in Philadelphia, and the Technion also launched a new master's program in English.
Can’t afford Jewish high school for your children? Naale Elite Academy Program promises an all-expenses-paid alternative. The only catch, or added benefit depending on your point of view, is that its schools are all based in Israel.
“There’s a tuition crisis occurring in the United States,” Yeshayhu Yechieli, director of the Naale Elite Academy Program (elite-academy.org), said during a recent trip through the United States to promote the program, which just opened a recruitment office in Philadelphia this fall. “We’re offering the whole program free of charge.”
Flights, tuition, and room and board are all covered by the program, which is sponsored by Israel’s Ministry of Education. That’s about a 50,000 shekel per year per student investment, or roughly $14,300.
“The hope of the program is that Jewish students who have grown up outside of Israel will develop a stronger self-identity as a Jew and a stronger connection to the Jewish people,” said Yechieli. “There’s also a strong hope that those students will choose to stay with us in Israel.”
He said the program mainly targets two different types of families: those that are considering a move to Israel and those that are Israeli and living in the United States.
About 90 percent of the students coming through the Naale academies ultimately choose to stay in Israel, according to Yechieli.
The program has been operating since 1992 and has served some 20,000 high school students from the United States, Europe, the former Soviet Union, South America and South Africa.
Of the 30 Naale Elite Academy-affiliated schools located throughout Israel, five offer curriculum in English, with options for both secular and religious students. Currently, there are about 200 American students studying at Naale academies.
“People don’t really know about us in the United States, so we’re trying to expand recognition of our program here,” Yechieli said.
As part of that expansion, Naale administrators set up a new base in Philadelphia, which is being headed by Dikla Sity-Meir.
Meanwhile, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is also offering a new program in English — a 15-month international systems engineering master’s program (technion-me-program.com).
As part of the degree, students will visit corporations, start-up companies and technological incubators throughout Israel, and meet with known figures from Israel’s science and tech communities.
Additionally, students have the option to enroll in a Beit Midrash or Jewish leadership track.
Students in the Beit Midrash track will learn in a yeshiva with Rabbi Professor Eliyahu Zini, a mathematics professor and the former Technion rabbi.
“The Technion is a great place for American students to gain practical skills for a successful career and explore Israel,” Dr. Avi Galor-Ginzburg, director of the program, said in a news release. The Israeli school’s multidisciplinary program offers a “full degree taught by some of the best professors in the world.”