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Youth Aliyah

YOUTH ALIYAH

YOUTH ALIYAH (Heb. עֲלִיַּת יְלָדִים וָנֹעַר, Aliyyat Yeladim va-No'ar; "Children and Youth Aliyah"), a branch of the Zionist movement founded for the purpose of rescuing Jewish children and young people from hardship, persecution, or deprivation and giving them care and education in Ereẓ Israel. It is administered as a department of the *Jewish Agency and supported by voluntary contributions. Youth Aliyah started its activities in Germany on the eve of the Nazis' rise to power and saved many children who had to leave their families or were orphaned by the Holocaust. It extended its work to other countries when the need arose and, particularly after the establishment of the State of Israel, looked after many young people entrusted to its care by new immigrant parents already in the country. It developed its own methods for bringing up young people in youth communities in kibbutzim or in its own centers and children's villages. Between the start of the movement in 1933 and the end of 1970, Youth Aliyah cared for about 140,000 young people, of whom 125,000 received residential care: 44% from Europe and the Americas, 41% from Asia and North Africa, and 15% from families already in Israel.

In 1932 Recha *Freier, a rabbi's wife in Berlin, conceived the idea of taking Jewish young people doomed to idleness in Germany and bringing them up in Palestine. She contacted the *Histadrut, which proposed absorbing them in kibbutzim. The first group of 12 young people was sent out in October 1932 to the *Ben Shemen youth village, and on January 30, 1933, the day Hitler became chancellor, the Juedische Jugendhilfe organization was founded, with the cooperation of Jewish youth movements in Germany, to carry on the work.

In the same year the 18th Zionist Congress in Prague decided on the establishment of a department for the settlement of German Jews and the leadership of the department's Youth Aliyah office was entrusted to Henrietta *Szold, with the assistance, in matters of finance, of Georg *Landauer. In February 1934 the first large group of young people, numbering 60, arrived at the kibbutz En-Harod. A few months later the first religious group was sent to Kevuẓat Rodges, near Petaḥ Tikvah. By the middle of 1935, 600 had been accommodated in 11 kibbutzim, four agricultural schools, and two vocational training centers. In 1935 Hans *Beyth, a youth movement leader, became Henrietta Szold's chief assistant and at the end of the year Hadassah undertook the responsibility for financial support of Youth Aliyah. After the Nazi conquest of Austria and Czechoslovakia its work was extended to cover these countries. The need for the rescue of Jewish children from Europe became even more obvious and urgent after the burning of the synagogues and the drastic anti-Jewish measures in Germany in November 1938. By the outbreak of World War ii more than 5,000 had been brought to Palestine – two-thirds from Germany, one-fifth from Austria, and the rest from other countries. For lack of immigration certificates, another 15,000 were sent to Western European countries, especially Britain.

In the early years of World War ii (1940–42) it was almost impossible to bring children from Europe and in 1941 Youth Aliyah began to undertake the care of young people already in Palestine. In the same year the first children arrived from Oriental countries (mainly Syria), about 1,000 of them crossing the Palestine frontier illegally. In 1943, 800 children from Poland, who had reached Persia via the Soviet Union and were accommodated in a refugee camp in Teheran, were taken to Palestine. There was a heated controversy in the yishuv over the education of these children, most of whom were orphans, religious circles demanding that they be given a specifically religious upbringing. The Jewish Agency finally ruled that those over 14 should choose for themselves and younger children should be brought up according to the way of life of their parents.

After the war, soldiers of the *Jewish Brigade and emissaries from Ereẓ Israel sought out children in Europe and collected them in transit centers set up by Youth Aliyah, the American Jewish *Joint Distribution Committee, *ose, and local organizations. Between 1945 and 1948, Youth Aliyah brought over to Palestine about 15,000 children from Europe, mostly survivors of the Holocaust. Many of them arrived illegally and were deported by the British authorities to camps in Cyprus, where a youth village, an imaginative institution that prepared thousands of young people for life in Israel, was established at the beginning of 1947.

With the establishment of the State (1948), Youth Aliyah opened wide its doors to child immigration and care. Its leadership passed to Moshe *Kol, who held the post until 1966, when he joined the Israel government and was succeeded by Yiẓḥak Artzi. In 1968 the post was entrusted to Yosef Klarman. Between 1948 and the end of 1970, 93,500 young people passed through its hands – about 52% of them coming from Asian and North African countries, 31% from Europe and the Americas, and 17% from Israel (mostly of African and Asian origin).

Religious youth are brought up in youth villages and institutions, including yeshivot, and in religious kibbutzim, belonging to all trends in religious Jewry. Forty percent of Youth Aliyah wards are accommodated in religious centers. In 1958 Youth Aliyah was awarded the Israel Prize for education for its humanitarian, social, and educational achievements.

Educational Methods

Successive waves of immigration brought in very varied types of children, differing widely in origin, previous education, and social, economic, and cultural background, many of whom had undergone traumatic experiences before their arrival. Youth Aliyah's aim, moreover, was not merely instruction and physical welfare, but education in the widest sense of the term in order to enable the child to find his place and play his part in a new and dynamic society. It was necessary, therefore, to develop new educational methods and forms of youth care, a task that demanded acute pedagogical insight and much initiative and innovation. To integrate the children into the social fabric of the new environment and at the same time give them individual attention, Youth Aliyah utilized two distinctive instruments: the ḥevrat no'ar (youth community) and the madrikh ("guide," counselor, or youth leader).

The ḥevrat no'ar became the characteristic educational unit of Youth Aliyah. It comprised about 40 young people who stayed together for two to four years until the age of 17–18 and constituted a self-contained social group with a large measure of internal autonomy. It might be attached to a kibbutz, which thus became an "educational settlement," or be part of a youth village or other educational institution directly managed by Youth Aliyah. The young people generally devoted four hours to work on the farm or in the workshop and four to study, in addition to communal and group activities.

Each ḥevrat no'ar had a madrikh and a metappelet (house mother) who helped the young people to tackle their personal, emotional, educational, and social problems as individuals and as a coherent and self-disciplined group. In the early years most of the madrikhim were temporary, coming from the kibbutzim for a spell of duty, but considerable efforts were made to enhance the status and standards of their vocation as a branch of the teaching profession. Seminaries for Youth Aliyah madrikhim and teachers were conducted in coordination with the Ministry of Education and Culture, especially its agricultural education division. Many graduates of Youth Aliyah have become madrikhim.

From 1949 onward, the proportion of children from African and Asian countries – mostly from underprivileged homes – rose until in 1953 they constituted 80% of the total. After a study of the problems involved in the care and education of these children, Youth Aliyah educators were able to confirm that there were no "ethnic" causes for their apparent backwardness, which was the result of generations of poverty and neglect. Specially graded curricula were devised for these children, textbooks and teaching materials were designed for the purpose, and teachers were given special guidance in this type of work.

At the beginning of the 1970s, Youth Aliyah was an educational, rather than a rescue organization, bringing up young newcomers from developed countries, as well as from areas of distress. Many were accommodated in youth villages, receiving education on the secondary level – vocational, agricultural, or academic – enabling some of them to prepare for matriculation and – if fit – go on to one of the universities. There was a scholarship fund for gifted children. Youth Aliyah's educational system was recognized by the Ministry of Education and Culture and controlled by its own inspectors. At the Ne'urim-Hadassah center, a joint venture of Youth Aliyah and Hadassah, a large variety of special vocational training courses were held. At Ramat Hadassah and Kiryat Ye'arim there were special courses for educationally backward and emotionally disturbed children. There were also medical and child guidance services.

For children in development areas living with their parents (mostly new immigrants), Youth Aliyah has established day centers in new towns and villages, which it runs jointly with the Jewish Agency and the ministries of Labor and Education. In 1970 there were 15 of these centers, giving a full day's vocational training and general education to more than 1,000 children aged 14–16 who had failed to gain admission to local post-primary schools or had dropped out before completing the course. There were also advanced one-year courses for graduates of the centers (some of them at Ne'urim). Youth Aliyah ulpanim were established for young immigrants aged 16–17½. A late innovation was the establishment of foreign-language courses at which young people from abroad can complete their secondary education in their native language up to matriculation standard and at the same time learn Hebrew and Jewish subjects.

Of the 125,000 children and young people taken in by Youth Aliyah up to the end of 1970 (in addition to some 15,000 in day centers), 9% came from Western Europe, 33% from Eastern Europe, 2% from the Americas, 21% from Africa, 20% from Asia, and 15% from Israel. During the year 1970, 1,351 new wards were received: 29% from Israel, 19% from African countries, 19% from Mediterranean countries, 11% from the Americas, 9% from Eastern Europe, 8% from Western Europe, and 5% from other Asian countries. On Jan. 1, 1971, Youth Aliyah had 7,551 wards under its care: about 70% in its 80 residential institutions, 19% in 150 kibbutz centers, 6% at special courses, and 5% at ulpanim. In addition, 1,631 young people attended day centers for youth, making a total of 9,182 under Youth Aliyah's care. Youth Aliyah graduates made up over 10% of Israel's Jewish population between the ages of 15 and 50 (50 being more or less the age of the earliest wards in 1971). They are about 20% of the membership of the kibbutzim and 30% in religious kibbutzim.

Youth Aliyah also found many non-Jewish supporters who were impressed by its work, including personalities like Eleanor Roosevelt, who was its World Patron. It is affiliated to various international organizations and is an active member of the International Federation of Children's Communities (fice) and the International Union for Child Welfare.

Later Developments

From the early 1970s Youth Aliyah accepted large numbers of Israeli-born children. By 1978, nine out of every ten Youth Aliyah students were Israeli-born, from families in distress. During the 1970s Youth Aliyah absorbed many immigrants from the Soviet Union and from Iran. With Operation Moses in 1984, approximately 3,000 Ethiopian children entered Youth Aliyah institutions. During the 1990s Youth Aliyah absorbed many children from the Soviet Union, due to Operation Exodus and subsequent waves of immigration from the cis, from Ethiopia, through Operation Solomon, and from war-torn Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe.

After 60 years of existence, Youth Aliyah had approximately 300,000 graduates. In 1993–94, out of a total number of 14,000 students, 7,000 were Israeli, 5,200 were Ethiopian immigrants, and 1,800 were immigrants from other countries; 73% of the students were in 70 residential and youth villages, 19% were part of 70 youth groups in kibbutzim, and 8% were in 15 youth day centers. In 2005 it operated five big youth villages for 1,000 native-born Israelis and new immigrants and provided short-term programs to another 12,000.

bibliography:

R. Freier, Let the Children Come (1961); C. Pincus, Come from the Four WindsThe Story of Youth Aliyah (1970); M. Kol, Youth AliyahPast, Present and Future (1957); idem, Massekhet Aliyyat ha-No'ar (1961); N. Bentwich, Jewish Youth Comes Home (1944); Ch. Rinott, No'ar Boneh Beito (1953); idem, Kavvim le-Aliyyat ha-No'ar ki-Tenu'ah Ḥinnukhit (1951); idem, in: K. Frankenstein (ed.), Between Past and Future (1953).

[Chanoch Rinott]

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