The Spirit of Israel supports four youth villages in Israel run by the Jewish Agency: Ben Yakir in Kfar Haroeh, Hadassah Neurim in Beit Yanai, Kiryat Yaarim in the Judean Mountains near Jerusalem and Ramat Hadassah in Kiryat Tivon.
In this enterprise, the Jewish Agency created a place and opportunity for thousands of teenagers at risk to break out of their underprivileged state and become integrated in Israeli society.
The villages provide a secure and supportive environment for around 1,000 teenagers at risk from the age of 12-18. Many of the youth from boarding schools come from welfare families and were forced to cope with harsh and complex conditions including: the loss of parents, poverty, family violence, dysfunction and neglect. The spiritual and emotional distresses that they experience are manifested in their functional and behavioral difficulties and even in their learning abilities. In the youth village, the youth encounter for the first time a residential environment that provides for the tools to recover, develop and find their place in Israeli society.
In the Spirit of the Program
The Youth Villages programs last 4-6 years during which the youth at risk study and participate in diverse social and therapeutic programs, within the framework of the boarding school in the youth village. In addition, external studies students from the area also arrive in the youth village to study in the school or for day care.
The success of the youth villages is made possible thanks to a multi-domain approach, which includes: a rehabilitation program to reduce learning gaps for junior high and high school students; an intervention program suited for personal needs that integrates intensive tutoring, emotional consultation and therapy along with many diverse enrichment activities including professional planning and the acquisition of values to contribute to society and Zionism.
Ben Yakir – is located in Kfar Haroeh provides a warm and supportive religious environment for 120 students, mostly new immigrants from Ethiopia. The youth village is run by a professional administrative council which comprises representatives of the Jewish Agency and public figures led by Chairman Benny Levin. The village offers formal education, Jewish heritage, a broad therapeutic alignment and a boarding school framework that provides the students with all their needs. The students are offered therapeutic programs, educational empowerment and enrichment, including: art therapy, animal-assisted therapy, therapeutic horseback riding, petting farm, song group, sports, music, capoeira, computers and a survival journey for those who completed the ninth grade and are in danger of dropping out. In addition, Ben Yakir runs a comprehensive Bar Mitzvah program and summer camp which stresses English studies. All the activities are intended to create a warm family atmosphere, enhance the youth’s self-confidence, strengthen their social skills and learning achievements and develop leadership skills.
Hadassah Neurim – is located in Beit Yanai, provides an educational-communal framework that receives
and contains 370 youth in grades 9-12, more than half of them native Israelis and the rest new immigrants. The youth village operates as a public non-profit organization in partnership with the Jewish Agency and the Women of Hadassah Organization, for the purpose of providing for its students all their needs for success and personal and social fulfillment. The village’s administration is complemented by the consultation and support of the “The Spirit of Israel’s Steering Committee Forum” comprising professionals in various fields. The school offers seven courses of study: Environmental Sciences, Health Sciences – Nursing, Agriculture, with an internship with animals (horses), Electrical Engineering and Computers, Business Administration, Sound Quality, Theater and Auto Mechanics. Graduates of the mechanics course can continue their studies for two more years (13-14), in the framework of the College of Technology and Engineering in the village. After study hours, the students participate in diverse social activities and various enrichment activities, such as: a song group, playing musical instruments, music studies, zoological garden, hair design and more. Hadassah Neurim also has a “National Center for Light Athletics in Israel” under which a sports boarding school develops and advances young and talented Israeli athletes on an international level. The boarding school makes it possible for these athletes to realize their personal abilities and in parallel to improve their learning achievements.
Kiryat Yaarim – a youth village located in the Judean Mountains near Jerusalem, provides warmth and
support for 130 teenagers who are defined as high risk level, around two-thirds of them Ethiopian new immigrants. The professional staff in the village lavishes these youth with love and encouragement, helps them overcome the problems they are coping with and enables them to realize their latent potential. The youth village is run by a professional administrative council which comprises representatives of the Jewish Agency and public figures led by Chairman Avi Naor. The school program in the village covers diverse courses of study: design arts, teleprocessing, cinema and agriculture, with an emphasis on horseback riding. In every class there are a small amount of students and hence our staff is able to give each student the maximum amount of attention and coordinate the empowerment and enrichment programs and therapy programs to suit their individual needs. In addition to the study program, the village also offers diverse social activities and enrichment activities in the realms of the arts, sports, nature and computers. Kiryat Yaarim is proud of its widespread efforts in the field of music which includes quality programs, some with the cooperation of the Jerusalem Music Academy, among them: learning how to play musical instruments, the “Yaarim Youth” band, two ethnic music ensembles and a recording studio. Moreover, the village has two top soccer teams, a “Follow Me!” program to prepare for IDF service and the pre-military “Kol Ami” (“Voice of My People”) program founded by the Jewish Agency. The Kol Ami preparatory program brings together Jewish youth from Israel and the Diaspora. The village also offers extensive social programs and enrichment programs in the field of the arts, sports, nature and computers that deal with matters of peoplehood, Jewish identity and strengthening ties between Israel and Jewish communities all over the world. The students of the military preparatory program volunteer in Kiryat Yaarim and serve as private tutors for the young students in the village.
Ramat Hadassah – the village, which is located in the heart of an oak tree forest in Kiryat Tivon, comprises an educational-communal framework for 310 students, enabling them to develop and grow from a personal, educational and social standpoint. The youth village is run by a professional administrative council, which comprises representatives of the Jewish Agency and public figures headed by Chairman Avi Naor. The vision of the village is to help youth at risk build a rich future with a good means of support, raise a family and become successfully integrated into Israeli society. As part of these efforts, each one of the students in the village has a personal work program built for them that suits their personal needs, abilities and the fields that interest them. Students who require intervention or other means of strengthening join complementary therapeutic programs such as: therapeutic horseback riding, animal-assisted therapy, art and psychodrama therapies. The study program in the village includes a number of courses of study, among them: communications, hotel management, agriculture – with an emphasis on animal sciences, business administration and theater. Recently a new course was opened in the computerized numerical control in which the students learn the secrets of their profession and work skills in the field, right after their studies are completed. Moreover, the students are offered abundant group and enrichment activities in their free time: sports, zoology, scuba diving, music, arts, plastic works and even a program for ecological-business initiatives where the students grow spice plants, produce soap, natural cosmetic products and wooden products for marketing and sales.