NAALE, one of the Jewish Agency's flagship programs, which helped bring to Israel over 11,000 Jewish teenagers from across the world, is now facing the risk of being shut down due to financial difficulties and lack of donors.
The program was launched in 1992 by the government and the Jewish Agency with the aim of bringing to Israel thousands of Jewish youths and providing them with full scholarships that would enable them to graduate from high school with a diploma.
Throughout the years, NAALE has had enormous success. Jewish Agency emissaries and graduates of the program managed to persuade more than 11,000 10-12 grade students from Argentina, the former Soviet Union, east European countries and the United States to take part in the project.
The young olim completed their studies here and abut 90% chose to remain in Israel and settle in the country. Additionally, the program succeeded in attracting the teens' families to Israel and in about 70% of the cases, the parents made aliyah in their children's footsteps.
Looking for new sources of fundingDespite all this, the Jewish Agency's Board of Trustees convened recently and decided to put the project on hold, stop recruiting new candidates for aliyah or sending mission abroad.
It should be noted that the 1,200 youngsters who are currently in Israel as part of the program will not be affected by this decision and will continue with the program as planned.
Several days ago, NAALE graduates met and decided to launch a struggle against the Jewish Agency's intention. The graduates claimed that the budget in question is minimal and doesn't warrant a closing of the program.
Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski said in response that "the recruiting of new students to the program has been postponed at this point in order to negotiate with the Israeli government and other bodies and find funding that would keep the project afloat."
Bielski stressed that the project was one of the organization and the Education Ministry's greatest successes, and that therefore large efforts will be made to find sponsoring.