throughout the country, serving approximately 17,000 children and adolescents. Meir Shfeyah, Ramat Hadassah and Hadassah Neurim are among 37 villages associated with the Rural Education Administration of the Ministry of Education and are among the 5-6 villages in this category which accept the neediest and most difficult students usually referred because they have been unsuccessful in other educational frameworks and are at risk of being abandoned in dangerous situations on the streets. The Rural Education Administration supervises kibbutz schools and boarding schools in the periphery which provide residential services to their students. The average size of the student populations in these villages is 300. Some of these villages are supported with help from organizations like WIZO, NAAMAT, ORT, ATID, the Department of Social Welfare and the Jewish Agency. Meir Shfeyah is not supported by any of these other organizations and we no longer receive referrals or assistance from the Department of Social Services. Our only affiliation is with Hadassah. We are also the only Hadassah Youth Village which belongs to Hadassah and is built on lands owned by Hadassah. 

The residential population at Shfeyah consists of approximately 300 students in grades 7-12 from all parts of Israel including Jews, Druze, Moslems, Ethiopians, Russians, Bedoins and Eritrean refugees. Another 300 students from the surrounding communities  attend the school alongside the residential students. These students privately pay additonal fees required by all Israeli schools, the equivalent of about $1000/year/child. 
80% of our residential students are referred by the Ministry of Education (including Naale students)  and 20 % are recruited by village staff and by word of mouth by our students who live and study here and recommend the programs to friends in their neighborhoods. 25% of our students are Ethiopian, 40% Russian, 10% Druze and Moslems.
The cost of housing and educating each student is 22,000 NIS / year ( approximately $5500). The cost of housing and educating of our students defined as “highest risk” ( about 10% of our students)  by the Ministry of Education is 50,000 NIS/ year ( approximately $14,000) because they require more supervision and support staff , live in smaller groups and study in smaller classes than the other students. The Ministry of Education funds 80% of these costs and the remaining expenses are funded by our income providing activities (renting facilities during school breaks and summer vacation) and private donations. 

Our students successfully complete their Bagrut (matriculation) requirements at twice the national average and 97% of our graduates, both boys and girls, do their army service in the IDF. Approximately 20% of our 12th grade graduates volunteer to do an additional year of community service before their army service (שנת שרות). More and more of our graduates (40%) pursue higher education after their army service. 

The Legacy of Youth Aliyah 
Youth Aliyah was created in Berlin in 1933 after the Nazi party came to power, by  Recha Freier who recognized the immediate threat to the Jews in Germany and Europe and began the rescue and resettlement of Jewish children in Palestine. In the early 1930s, Henrietta Szold was contacted by activists in Germany, who sought help in sending German Jewish youth to Palestine. In 1933, with conditions for Jews in Germany deteriorating rapidly, Szold took responsibility for Youth Aliyah with support of the Hadassah Women’s Organization, putting into place a giant effort that entailed preparing and organizing young people in Germany to live in Palestine, securing visas and transportation, and establishing an educational and support system for the new arrivals within Jewish agricultural settlements.
11,000 young people, first from Germany and then from other nations that fell under the Nazi shadow, came to Palestine as part of Youth Aliyah. Szold tried to meet every arriving transport of children and took a personal interest in the placement and situation of every child. When emigration from Nazi-occupied Europe was finally cut off, Szold sought to turn the resources of the movement toward the care of socially disadvantaged youth within Palestine itself.
The success of this complicated organizational effort of rescue in the face of the growing European catastrophe added to the already stunning record of achievement claimed by Szold and by Hadassah, which funded the work of its former leader. Her intense commitment to the children of Youth Aliyah gained the childless Szold recognition, throughout Palestine and the Jewish world, as a true mother in Israel. 

After WWII, Youth Aliyah continued to rescue, house and educate orphans and refugees in kibbutzim and youth villages until the 1960s when the villages undertook the rehabilitation of Israeli children and adolescents at risk. From 1925 – 1956, Junior Hadassah provided the operating budget for the Meir Shfeyah Children’s Village and members of Junior Hadassah worked alongside Israeli staff with the youth aliyah children. In the 1970s and 80s the villages accepted and provided homes to the children of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia and today we continue to care for and educate teenagers who have been abused and/or abusive and who require residential placement in order to change patterns of failure, poverty and abuse and become productive, successful and active  members of their communities. In the 21st century, Hadassah Youth Villages continue to save lives and honor the legacy of rescuing children by providing young people with skills, knowledge and values which enable  them to recognize their potential and become part of a pluralistic, democratic and enlightened society based on Jewish values while accepting and valuing  those qualities which make us different, and those which bind us. In 2015 we continue the  Zionist work of educating and preparing  needy children of all backgrounds; Jews, Christians, Moslems, Druze, Russians, Ethiopians, North Americans and Africans to be Israeli. Through Hadassah’s Youth Aliyah villages, the Zionist work of creating a “light among nations” continues.

Hadassah Youth Villages

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