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Literally, youth immigration. Organization for the resettlement, education, and rehabilitation of Jewish youth in Israel. Youth Aliyah was founded in 1934, the year after Hitler’s seizure of power in Germany, was to save German Jewish youth from imminent doom under the Nazi system. In the desperate days of 1932, the idea for youth immigration from Germany to Palestine came to Recha Freier in Berlin. She presented this idea to a gathering of children about to complete their elementary education, and the response was tremendous. The youth themselves organized Juedische Jugendhilfe, or Jewish Youth Aid, which was soon joined by Ahava, or Love, an orphanage in Berlin. For years Ahava had been transferring children to Ben Shemen, a children’s village in Palestine. Under the leadership of Henrietta Szold, these spontaneous beginnings were organized into the Youth Aliyah movement. Selected adolescents were brought to Israel. There, in groups of 20 to 30, they were given two years of intensive training to enable them to settle on the land. During World War II, when communication with Europe was cut off, Youth Aliyah agents worked behind enemy lines, endangering their lives to bring children out of Europe to Palestine. The greatest challenge, however, came after the war. At that time thousands of children, wandering parentless over the face of a war-ravaged continent, had to be given homes and security. After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the beginning of mass immigration, the number of young people needing training and care increased further. Many of them came from Far Eastern countries and had to be helped to bridge the thousand-year gap between the lives they had led in their lands of origin and the lives they were about to lead in modern, westernized Israel. In time, other problems arose. While at first Youth Aliyah cared for youths separated from their parents, in recent years they have had to aid youngsters living with their families in underprivileged surroundings. It has undertaken a program of vocational training for immigrant youth and is founding clubs and youth centers in immigrant settlements. It has also taken under its wing underprivileged Israel-born youth; among its latest projects is an agricultural training course for Israeli Arabs. At the same time, Youth Aliyah is continuing to receive hundreds of youngsters each month in the 270 settlements throughout Israel; there, full-time educational programs are conducted under the guidance of specially trained counselors, many of whom are Youth Aliyah “graduates.” Special centers are maintained for disturbed children and those needing medical treatment. The organization has cared for more than 160,000 Jewish youths from 80 different countries in its 45 years of existence. The majority of youth Aliyah wards have gone into agriculture, making a sizeable contribution to the farm community of Israel. There is at present scarcely an agricultural settlement without its Youth Aliyah graduates. Others have become skilled craftsmen, teachers, soldiers, artists, and social workers.

The Youth Aliyah program is conducted and partly financed by the Jewish Agency. Hadassah, which has taken a special interest in the project from its inception is the official representative of Youth Aliyah in the U.S., and provides about 35% of its funds.

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