29 Jan From Venezuela to a more meaningful life in Israel: the miracle of Tony Reichler
After Aliyah, a life of meaning.
Tony Reichler left Venezuela for Israel and discovered a sense of purpose he never knew he had.
I learned in high school, served in the army, and fulfilled public service. This type of self-realization is something I did not experience in Venezuela.
Tony enrolled in Na’ale: The World’s Jewish High School, a program of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Na’ale allows parents in Jewish communities abroad to register their tenth-grade children for three years of tuition-free high school in Israel. Teens learn Hebrew, build lifelong friendships with peers from around the world, and develop a lasting relationship with the land — through educational trips and cultural activities.
You could say that single decision set the stage for Tony’s next chapter—reaching his full potential as a citizen of Israel. And The Jewish Agency was with him every step of the way.
“My parents raised my sister and me as good citizens of Venezuela and as lovers of Israel,” Tony explains. His father, a Zionist, emigrated to Venezuela and settled there after meeting Tony’s mother. He would tell the family stories of his own experiences in the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. That idea of public service stuck with Tony later, as he completed his high school diploma and officially made Aliyah (as the vast majority of Na’ale participants do).
The Jewish Agency that supports Jews who wish to make Aliyah–immigrate to Israel–from world-wide locations. Through an all-encompassing, hands-on system of resources, The Jewish Agency provides guidance throughout the entire application process. They answer questions, help make arrangements, and are there for community members and their families as they undergo this life change.
Finding your place in a new home, however, takes time and dedication. Tony entered an intensive Hebrew language program in northern Israel for two-and-a-half years. He learned to speak Hebrew, and worked to complete his immigrant absorption process. When the time came for him to follow in his father’s footsteps and enroll in the Israel Defense Forces — The Jewish Agency was once again by his side. While serving in his combat unit, he was particularly empowered by Wings: Services and Continuing Support for Lone Soldiers. The Jewish Agency created the Wings program to provide services like counseling, a stipend, and stays with host families for soldiers who serve Israel while their families live abroad. Wings also prepares their soldiers for life after discharge. They help these often new Israeli citizens transition into civilian life in an unfamiliar country. For Tony, this meant enrolling in university. Wings was able to help there, too.
“I knew I was taking a financial risk and an academically challenging path by enrolling in university,” Tony says. “But, I wanted to study governance and strategy, and I have a strong desire to succeed in Israeli society.”
And, it’s this drive that led him to become a student at IDC Herzliya, a private college modeled after Ivy League universities. He’s studying diplomacy and strategy — and he hopes to enter the public sector after graduation. His connection with The Jewish Agency is still something that strongly defines his journey.
He’s become a spokesman for The Agency — traveling across the U.S. and around the world to talk about how Wings helps soldiers in Israel. Known as a particularly dynamic public speaker, he talks about his own life, and relates how The Jewish Agency has been there for him and others like him. He emphasizes how they work to strengthen the relationship between Jews around the world and Israel.
This past year, things came full circle as Tony returned to his native Venezuela on a mission for The Agency. Tony spoke of how in Israel, “I learned in high school, served in the army, and fulfilled public service. This type of self-realization is something I did not experience in Venezuela.”
Since immigrating, Tony’s story only grows richer with each passing day. “In the State of Israel, you can grow as a person,” he says. “I very much love what I’ve been doing here since I made Aliyah.”