Students at Sharon Middle School celebrate Independence Day.
Photo: Yaron Brenner
A visit to the Sharon Middle School in Ra'anana almost feels like a tour in the halls of the UN – it is even possible to come across almost 20 different languages being spoken.
From a student body of 467 students, 87 of them are new Olim or immigrants from 23 different nations.
Various nations are represented: Uruguay, Italy, Iran, Argentina, the US, Belgium, Britain, South Africa, Spain, Chile, the Czech Republic, France, Canada, Kenya, Croatia, Russia, Switzerland, Thailand, Ethiopia, Austria and Hungary. And of course – Israel.
The Sharon Middle School represents the melting pot that is Israel on its 67th birthday.
One of the students, Ruzhin Neimot, 14 years old, made aliyah to Israel from Iran less than two years ago. Ruzhin's best friends are Sally from Thailand and Lian, who was born in Israel.
"It was a bit hard to live (in Iran), but not like my friends in Israel think it was with wars and police stopping us all the time. It wasn't like that," says Ruzhin.
"When I lived in Iran, I heard there were a lot of wars in Israel but also good things. We did not tell people there we were moving to Israel. We moved to Turkey and then a day later we made aliyah to Israel.
"I arrived at the absorption center with my dad and sister and then (moved to) Ra'anana. I did not know there were so many Jews here from so many countries."
The school's principal, Reayah Levy, explains that the combination of students from several countries could have been a real challenge, but because of the good will and the program organizing it is not an impossible task.
Among other things, the schools implemented a plan of "creative reception" by teaching music, sports and the arts.
"There is a very specific work plan," explains Levy. "The absorption begins with the municipality, through the Ulpan coordinator, the teacher and so on. We help them with their absorption in Israel in general, including on the day-to-day level. They don't study in a Olim class but rather with the larger class in order to feel included. The parents also host the families and are with them during the holidays.
"We see these children as the human capitol of the state of Israel," says Levy.
Mayor of Ra'anana, Zeev Bielski, a former chairman of the agency, added: "It's touching. What unites everyone is that they are one group with the Israelis. Several of them are celebrating Independence Day for the first time. I am proud to be the mayor of a city that has a school that makes this kind of effort to absorb all the olim and give them the feeling that they are at home."