From Around the World to First Grade in Israel

Many of the immigrant children came in secret from countries that are hostile toward, or even at war with Israel

By Yossi Aloni | | Topics: Aliyah
Photo: Jewish Agency

More than 2,000 students who immigrated to Israel from 37 countries this summer have begun studying in the Israeli education system. Thirty-one of these children arrived secretly from countries that are sworn enemies of the Jewish state. 

Those children and their families who had immigrated to Israel in complete secrecy came from places like Iran, Yemen, Tunisia and Venezuela, countries that have no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, and some of which are openly at war with her.

According to data from the Jewish Agency, which assisted in the clandestine operations, about 1,450 of the immigrant students who begin their first year of study in Israel are children and teens ages 6-17 who will join elementary, middle schools and high schools. More than 550 children age 3-and-older are enrolled in preschools and kindergartens across the country.

Among the Jewish children who came this summer are many from less common sources of immigration, such as Armenia, China, Thailand, Cyprus, Hong Kong, India and Panama.

In preparation for the opening of the school year, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog met in his Jerusalem office with some of the children and families who had secretly immigrated from enemy countries. “You have all immigrated in recent months from very complex and even dangerous places like Arab countries and South America,” Herzog said at the meeting. “We are very pleased that you are now in our country, and we all wish you the most successful school year in the world. You will feel safe here in your country, in the Holy Land, in the State of Israel,” he told the children.

A 14-year-old who just a month ago immigrated from Venezuela, a country that over the past year has experienced political upheavals that have endangered the Jewish community there, said on her arrival to Israel: “The situation is not good in Venezuela. I love Israel, and people here have everything they need.” The teen, who is now starting her freshman year at a high school in Ashdod, reported after her first day of studies that “it’s hard not to feel good here. I already have a lot of friends from the Absorption Center, as well as friends here from Venezuela and Brazil and other countries. I’m good here!”

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