American parents facing the yeshiva tuition crisis will now have an option in the Holy Land, thanks to Yeshivot Bnei Akiva, which is opening the doors of its new high school program in September.
Although tuition at the high school is free because it’s completely subsidized by the state of Israel, organizers assert that the primary impetus for people to send their children there will be the program’s high level of education.
The 70-year-old organization, which already boasts of a network of 63 schools across Israel, is launching the program for students in the 10th through 12th grades because it wants to meet the needs of people outside of Israel, said Daniel Edelman of Teaneck, co-president of American Friends of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva.
|A view of YBA’s school for boys in Beersheva.|
“In a global world, YBA’s responsibilities include providing programs and services for those outside of Israel as well,” Edelman said. “The high school program makes YBA’s successful schools that have trained so many of Israel’s finest citizens available to religious Zionist youth who are prepared to spend their high school years in Israel. It may also be an affordable alternative for parents looking for quality educational options to the tuition crisis.”
Although the program has only recently been announced, it has already generated a great deal of interest among parents, said Edelman. Interviews and screenings for students will take place after Passover, he said.
Rabbi Yoni Mozeson of Teaneck, the program’s director of recruitment and marketing, said that it is designed for those who want to benefit from the experience of learning in Israel while still receiving a high-level, American-style education.
The program has been running for several years at two YBA dormitory schools – Yeshivat Ohel Shlomo in Beersheva for boys and Ulpanat Segula in Kiryat Motzkin for girls – but this is the first time YBA is cosponsoring the program.
|The girls school at Kiryat Motzkin.|
The sole costs associated with the program are a $100 application fee and a $150 registration fee, which covers a screening process.
Even pocket money and the cost of the airline ticket to Israel will be covered.
Students will begin their coursework in 10th grade with an intensive ulpan (Hebrew language class) so that they will be fully fluent in Hebrew and able to study alongside Israelis in the regular program. Additional tutoring will be available to those who need it.
Mozeson knows from firsthand experience that finding the perfect high school for a child can sometimes require travel abroad. When his son was unhappy with the choices offered in the tri-state area, the Mozesons found that the high school in Beersheva met all of his needs.
“We felt that another option was necessary for a teenager who needs one-on-one attention that you only get in a dorm setting in Israel,” said Mozeson, who coincidentally attended the Beersheva school himself 30 years ago. “We felt it would be more spiritually effective, and we were right.”
While free tuition may be a draw, it shouldn’t be the main draw, he said. “People should want to do this because it’s a tremendous experience your child can only have in Israel. The students will learn to love the land of Israel and the people of Israel. They will learn Torah in the land of Israel. We will take them on tiyulim [trips] throughout the country. They will also become fluent in Hebrew. And if people save a lot of money, which they will, that’s just an added bonus.”
Local parents who have sent their high-schoolers to Israel for study in similar programs say it’s the best thing they could have done for their children.
L’via Weisinger of Teaneck, whose son Yoni looked at the high school choices in the New York/New Jersey area, said that the learning in Israel is on a higher level. “He called us ecstatic shortly after his arrival, feeling for the first time in his life that he truly belonged and had a purpose. That is what being in Israel can do for a kid.”
Weisinger, whose son plans to remain in Israel after high school, said she recommends the program for families planning aliyah. “This way you can send your child ahead to get a head start,” she said.