By Elisha Bruck
Many factors are considered when planning a move to Eretz Yisrael. In addition to finding suitable Parnassa and housing in a welcoming community, there is the need to find Moisdos, which offer proper Chinuch for children. Moving to Eretz Yisrael should never be the cause of a Yeridah in a child’s Ruchniyus development. In addition to performing the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael, the hope of every parent is that their child will experience an Aliyah in the Ruchniyus as well.
After all, Avirah D’eretz Yisroel Machkim – the air of Eretz Yisrael makes one wiser,” offering its inhabitants an entirely new level of Ruchniyus. An integral part of a successful Aliya is a suitable well-adjusted environment, where parents can continue providing the Chinuch to their children the way they see fit. Making Aliyah in a responsible manner requires parents to feel confident that they will indeed be able to continue providing their children with the proper chinuch that they see fit- perhaps even more so than before Aliyah.
Since schools play an integral role in the Chinuch of children, it is vital for a child’s successful and smooth integration, that parents are aware of the school’s style and approach to Chinuch. Despite the many positive things that can be said about schools in Israel, it is important to recognize that the Chinuch system in Israel is generally different from the system in place throughout the US and Canada.
It is important to have realistic expectations when looking into potential schools. Anticipating and understanding these differences will help you explore the best possible options for your child when making Aliyah.
Tapping into new opportunities
For many years the general approach of Anglo-Olim was to rapidly integrate their children into the Israeli school system. Parents sent their children to regular Israeli schools and encouraged them to integrate from day one into mainstream Israeli (Chareidi) society. While many children succeeded and were able to grow tremendously, some children, unfortunately, struggled to find their place in the Israeli education system.
Oftentimes, when Olim sent their children to the local Cheder or Bais Yaakov, the school’s administrators, and teachers found it difficult to relate to these new Talmidim arriving fresh off the plane. At times, children were left with Mechanchim that couldn’t fully guide them through the challenging process of integration.
Since rapid integration was accepted as the only option for Chinuch in Eretz Yisrael, many families contemplating Aliyah were unsure if their children would succeed in such circumstances and decided to avert the risk by staying in Chutz L’Aretz.
Baruch Hashem, with the tremendous influx of Frum-Anglo families choosing to make their home in Eretz Yisrael, a new reality is taking shape on the ground. Over the past decade, there has been a boom of new Olim-friendly schools opening their doors. These schools have English-speaking faculty members who can communicate with the children and parents, understand the complexities of making Aliyah, and can offer a soft landing while integrating children to help them feel comfortable in their new environment.
The change has been gradual and subtle, but it is revolutionizing Chinuch for Frum families as we know it. Recognizing and respecting that the American mindset is different, has paved the way for opening these new schools, which are capable of accommodating children of American Olim, without compromising their standard of education or Frumkeit. This approach follows a slower and more controlled integration.
With this innovative development still unfolding and expanding, Chadarim, Yeshivas, and Bais Yaakov schools are now available, replete with large student bodies of new Olim, and (partial) staff of English-speaking Mechanchim who are sensitive to the specific needs of Olim. The goal of these schools is not to leave the children in a perpetual bubble, but rather to integrate them in a slower and more controlled manner. The children learn Hebrew and become integrated into Israeli society at a slow and methodical pace, focusing on socialization, which has proven beneficial.
To date, there are dozens of schools for all ages that are leading the way and opening the doors for new Olim. Many of these Moisdos are located in Ramat Bet Shemesh and its environs but they can also be found throughout the country. These schools are seeing tremendous success working with Frum–Anglo families. The Talmidim and Talmidos of these schools develop into well-adjusted, thriving, and fulfilled Bnei and Bnos Torah, who feel at home in Eretz Yisrael. This development offers a credible solution for families with children considering Aliyah, who have been hesitant to risk their children’s well-being. This has proven to be a game-changer!
Practical questions to keep in mind when looking for a school
- Do you feel comfortable communicating directly with the school and do the principal/teachers speak and/or understand English?
- Are the school rules and expectations appropriate for your family/child?
- Does the school have experience working with Olim?
- Have you spoken with other Olim parents, whose children are in the school?
- Is the school confident that your child will succeed at their institution given the Child’s background and place of origin?
- What services does the school offer for Olim?
- Since there are no typical Bais Yaakovs or Yeshivos as in “Canada or the US”- are you comfortable with the Chinuch and Midos of the children you see at this school?
- Are you comfortable with the “feeder schools” (post)high schools that the students attend – likely where your child will continue after graduating?
- If your child has learning challenges, is the school equipped to support them properly?
Disclaimer: This article is meant to provide a basic perspective and background on chinch options available in Israel. It is not meant to encourage or advance any specific way or approach to chinuch, which is beyond the scope of this article.
For more information and assistance with getting in touch with Mechanchim and educators in Eretz Yisroel please be in touch at: [email protected].
* Updated on May 7, 2023 *