27 Jan Sometimes It Takes An Exceptional Village
For going on three years, Afek, 17, has been living and studying at the Hadassah Neurim Youth Village. He grew up in Kfar Truman, not far from Tel Aviv, and was a less-than-stellar student at the school near his house as the teachers were unable to offer individual attention and assistance to someone with learning difficulties. Understanding that Afek needed a different educational environment, he and his mom went searching online and discovered Hadassah Neurim.
Hadassah Neurim, located near Netanya, is a youth village that houses and educates youth ages 12-18 who suffer from severe emotional, behavioral, and family problems. A joint program by The Jewish Agency and Hadassah – The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, in partnership with The Jewish Federations of North America, it offers its students the support they need so they can be contributing, valued members of Israeli society.
“The staff here are amazing; they are always willing and eager to help me with my homework or any other problem I have,” said Afek. “They also encouraged me to join the bicycle and running teams, and for the first time in my life, I actually won some bike races, which was so incredible and fun.”
Besides biking and running, Hadassah Neurim’s offers other diverse electives, ranging from surfing to robotics and beyond. Additionally, Hadassah Neurim’s technological college for 13th and 14th-grade pupils ages 18–20, lets students graduate with practical engineering certificates which are useful in securing prestigious positions for their Israeli military service.
“I’ve loved cars since I was little and constantly watched related films and races. So when I saw Hadassah Neurim had a car mechanics elective, I was sold,” shared Afek. “I also plan to continue to 13th and 14th grades at the college as the skills I’ll develop there will help me when I join the army.”
Another student, Eleanor, is also grateful she came to Hadassah Neurim. As a kid, Eleanor’s father was physically abusive to her until finally, her mother kicked him out. On top of that, instead of learning at school, Eleanor preferred to hang out outside and smoke with her friends. Knowing she was headed down a negative path and needed help, she was given a choice: start attending activities at a local youth center or go to boarding school. She chose boarding school, enrolling at Hadassah Neurim, a decision that altered the course of her life.
“Hadassah Neurim is truly my home. When a student comes here, everything changes for them. The staff gave me support, they listened to me. They have fought for me like nobody else ever has,” divulged Eleanor. “If I hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t have gotten an education. Hadassah Neurim saved me and gave me the chance to build a better future for myself. Now my dream is to help other kids realize their future is in front of them.”