With anti-Semitic rhetoric and acts of violence rising worldwide, it’s well known that more and more families are choosing to make aliyah. As a result, Reshet AMIT’s principals and teachers are being called upon to help new students, and their parents, integrate seamlessly into Israeli society.
During a recent visit to AMIT Bar Ilan Netanya High School, I saw this in action. Of the 420 seventh- to twelfth-grade boys, there are 100 French olim. I sat with a group of students to learn about their experiences since moving to Israel. Some had been there a few years, while others had only arrived within the last 6 months. It became clear to me that the support they’re getting is second to none. When the principal, Rabbi Yuval Elimelech, asked what they missed most about their lives in France, the majority couldn’t think of anything. Their memories were clouded by negative feelings and experiences. When pressed, one of the students piped up: “Rabbi, we’re not French, we’re Israelis!”
The guiding principle at this, and other AMIT schools, particularly in Ashdod and Ra’anana, both home to many French olim, is to give our students every tool necessary to integrate as quickly as possible, then help them focus on excelling in class and developing into well-rounded, ethical young adults. Blending the different cultures comes naturally at AMIT, where we have welcomed immigrants from each wave of aliyah — from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, India and many other countries from which our students and their families originated.
In addition to a rigorous academic schedule, the boys at Bar Ilan Netanya participate in innovative programs aimed at finding common ground between religious and secular students.
It was very exciting to meet one student, Ari, whose team won an innovative technology award granted by the Ness Technology Leadership Program. AMIT students developed a device to facilitate communication between autistic children and their parents. The device has a camera that tracks and deciphers the child’s movements and a thermometer that measures his or her body temperature. Using this information, the gadget can identify the child’s mental and emotional state at any given time and then transmit this data to an app that helps parents provide the best and most efficient response to their child’s needs. Hearing Ari describe his team’s creative process made me proud that these young inventors felt empowered to search for a solution to this widespread problem.
This interaction, among others, during my visit exemplified the culture of tolerance, innovation and curiosity promoted at Reshet AMIT.