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LIGHT THE WAY CAMPAIGN
Inspired by Hanukkah and the light of the Menorah, we continue to bring light into Israel’s most challenged communities.
Read below about our recent work:
Seventh light- Snir and Ziva
New Schools, New Life: Helping Ukrainian Families Settle In
Since the outbreak of the war, hundreds of Ukrainian families have arrived in Be’er Sheva. Working closely with the local municipality, Dror Israel educators have been running day camps and after-school programs teach Hebrew and Israeli culture to teen immigrants. Ariyeh, a Dror Israel educator, shares: “Each day we played games and did activities like woodworking, creating a safe space for these traumatized teens to process their experiences and make new friends.”
15-year-old Anna arrived at camp not knowing any Hebrew. Ariyeh remembers her first day: “I sat down with her, and we began communicating through hand gestures and a translation app. She was nervous but I persisted. After the first week, she always had a Hebrew greeting and a smile on her face.”
Today hundreds Ukrainian teens have joined Dror Israel’s associated Youth Movement. They attend activities every week practicing their Hebrew, participating in cultural activities, and bonding with their new friends.
Bridging the Jewish-Arab Gap: Teaching Hebrew in Arab Schools
Through its Coexistence Education Gap Year program, Dror Israel educates Israeli teens about the issues of Jews and Arabs and coexistence in Israeli society. As part of the Gap Year, participants live in mixed cities where they study Arabic, teach Hebrew to children in Arab schools, and run after-school activities for Jewish and Arab children.
Omer, 18, Coexistence Gap Year participant, shares: “In Haifa, I saw diversity up close. We experienced first-hand what it means to coexist, to live in a mixed Jewish-Arab city. Life there is complex but I came to love the city, and the different people I met along the way found their way into my heart.”
Omer and his fellow teen educators taught Hebrew in a local Arab school. They were the only Jews there, and their Arabic was still limited. Omer remembers: “When we first arrived, we were really nervous. The students looked at us like we were aliens. Most of the Arab teachers spoke Hebrew but not the kids, so communicating was difficult. Slowly we got to know one another, learning about their challenges as Arabs in Israel. One day we came into the classroom and the whiteboard was full of hearts and “We Love You” in Hebrew. The connection, the appreciation meant so much, and I really understood the change education can make in improving Israeli society.”
For Israel's Most Challenged Students: Teaching and Transforming Lives
Dror Israel boarding schools serve Israel’s most troubled kids. Students suffer from depression or addiction, or even minor run-ins with the police. Emma, an educator and counselor at Dror Israel’s Eshbal Boarding School, explains: “We take kids for whom traditional schools weren’t effective. We work around the clock with students, families, social workers, and psychologists to turn lives around. It’s a slow process but we are very dedicated to helping these kids.”
Central to the program at Eshbal are the educational stable and kennel. According to Emma, “Taking care of the animals teaches responsibility. Students also volunteer in the local community, so they learn to care for others beyond themselves.” Ofek, one of Emma’s students, describes her experience: “When I got to Eshbal I was in a dark place. Emma encouraged me to express my feelings. She helped me take responsibility for everything I do.”
Emma confirms the success of Dror Israel boarding schools: “Many of our graduates go on to army preparation or ‘year of service’ programs, and all of them enlist in the IDF or national service. We partner with local municipalities. Demand for our services is skyrocketing.”
With Your Support
Dror Israel continues to help Ukrainian immigrants and children in their new lives. With your help, our schools for youth at risk, youth movement, and community programs bring Jews and Arabs together, empower vulnerable populations and improve the lives of 150,000 Israelis each year.