17 Heshvan, 5765
Elite Academy: Boarding School Israeli Style
Unique Scholarship Program Makes Debut in U.S.;
Attracts 28 Academically-motivated American Students
I want the opportunity to experience living in Israel
in a way that's impossible in just a visit.
Leila Dashevsky, 16, Elite Scholar from Springfield, Mass.
NEW YORK - Since 1992 more than 10,000 selected high school students from Europe, South America and South Africa have been given the opportunity to fulfill their dream to attend high school in Israel through Elite Academy, a unique three-year scholarship program co-funded by the State of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).
This marks the first year Elite Academy has been available to students in the U.S. Despite minimal advertising and promotion, applications poured in from hundreds of talented American high school students eager and willing to leave family and friends behind to complete grades 10, 11 and 12 in one of more than 50 Elite Academy-affiliated day schools, boarding schools, yeshivas or kibbutz regional high schools located throughout Israel.
"Elite Academy is for academically-motivated Jewish students who want the chance to live in Israel like an Israeli," said Michael Landsberg, executive director of JAFI's Immigration Department in North America, who oversees Elite Academy in the U.S. and Canada. "Elite students are immersed in Hebrew language, Israeli culture and customs, and must keep up with demanding coursework that includes Jewish and secular studies."
Acceptance to the Elite Academy program is based on the successful completion of an interview and written exam. Academic background and emotional maturity are among the criteria for acceptance.
Students span all levels of observance and academic interests. Some are quite familiar with Israel having made several trips there; for others, Elite Academy will mark their initial entry. Upon acceptance to the program students choose a school that matches their academic, social and religious needs under the guidance of their parents and Elite Academy staff. Special curriculums are devised for students who have exemplary talent in mathematics, physics and computers. All Elite Scholars take part in field trips, extracurricular activities and seminars with their Israeli peers.
The program is bolstered by a strong support network comprised of JAFI professionals who continually interface with Elite Scholars and their parents. Each Elite Academy class has an educational team working with it, consisting of a class teacher, housemother and social instructor, of which, at least one is fluent in English. In addition, another professional team is available for both social and moral support, and each Elite Scholar is paired with a host family who provides home-away-from-home hospitality during Sabbath and school holidays, and a warm and caring environment. Whenever possible, the families are veteran immigrants from English-speaking countries.
Elite Scholars receive pocket money, full board, travel money and a budget for maintaining telephone contact with their parents. In return, they are required to take their studies seriously, achieve the educational objectives of the Academy and abide by its rules.
"The Elite Academy retention rate is quite high," said Landsberg. "Almost 100 percent of our Scholars graduate from their adopted school and receive an Israeli Matriculation (Bagrut) that is recognized by the top universities and colleges worldwide."
Landsberg views Elite Academy as a soul-raiser. "Students apply to the program for a variety of reasons from learning Hebrew to meeting new friends, but they all agree they have something important to contribute. We provide the ways and means for them to dig deep in their hearts and minds and develop the talent and skills that will enable them to be part of Israel's future."
For more information about Elite Academy, call toll-free 866-IPC-ISRAEL (866-472-4772), or visit www.israelprograms.org.
If you would like to localize this story, the first class of 28 Elite Scholars from the U.S. are from: Seattle; Tenafly, NJ; Brooklyn, NY; Denver, Col.; San Diego, Watsonville and Irvine, Calif.; Rockville, Md.; Pittsburgh, Penn.; Miami, Fla.; and Boston and Springfield, Mass.
To arrange interivews with Elite Scholars and their parents, and Michael Landsberg, contact Wendy Hirschhorn, 212-826-8790 or email@example.com.
About the Jewish Agency for Israel
The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) is an international organization in which Jews from Israel and the Diaspora work together to: rescue Jews in distress; promote immigration of Jews and their absorption in Israel; support Jewish education; and foster relationships between Jews around the world and their links to Israel. Since its inception in 1929, JAFI has brought approximately 3.3 million new immigrants to Israel. It is governed by an executive assembly composed of elected representatives from the World Zionist Organization, United Jewish Communities (UJC) and Keren Hayesod (United Israel Appeal). It is primarily funded by the UJC and KH. Carole Solomon is chairman of the JAFI Board of Governors and Sallai Meridor is chairman of the JAFI Executive. For information visit www.jafi.org.il.
For further information contact:
Liaison to Foreign Press
The Jewish Agency for Israel