Na'ale (a Hebrew acronym for "Youth Making Aliyah Ahead of Parents") a joint project of the Jewish Agency and Israel's Ministry of Education, was established in 1992 with the goal of providing unaccompanied Jewish high-school students from around the world the chance to start or complete their high school education in Israel, with the goal of having them stay in Israel after school, join the IDF and make Aliyah.
The goal of the Na'ale project, in partnership with WIZO, is to offer an alternative for young Jews suffering from anti-Semitism around the world, but also to average Jewish youths in the diaspora who want to make Aliyah, even if their families are not in a position to accompany them at the time.
Studying in Israel through Na'ale is completely subsidized for accepted students. The first year of the Na'ale program immerses the new arrivals in the Hebrew language and exposes them to Israel's famous tourist, archeological and historical sites. The students receive lessons in Zionism, Jewish identity, Israeli culture and personalized assistance (social worker, psychologist, educational advisor) with acclimation, homework and studying.
More than 16,000 students from over 65 countries have studied in Israel through the Na'ale program so far, hundreds of them at WIZO youth villages like CHW Hadassim and WIZO Nahalal. Program statistics show that 90% of all Na'ale students end up joining the IDF, 85% continue on to higher education and 65% are joined in making Aliyah by their families.
Aviahai Smadja, the 17-year-old student portrayed in the video produced by WIZO, suffered from violent anti-Semitic abuse as a young high school student in his hometown of Paris. After a difficult adaption period, as a Na'ale student at CHW Hadassim Youth Village, he has become an eager member of Israeli society; he hopes to be recruited to an elite unit of the Israeli Defense Forces. For him, as for many Na'ale students interviewed for the video's production, because of the opportunity they were given to live and study in Israel - they see their futures only in Israel.
The CHW Hadassim Youth Village is home to 103 Na'ale students, half of whom hail from France and the other half from South American countries like Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, who are escaping unstable political and economic situations. The program has consistently expanded since its inception. WIZO Nahalal Youth Village has already seen 560 Na'ale students graduate, 99% of whom made Aliyah afterward and 97% of whom joined the IDF. This year, WIZO Nahalal is home to 108 Na'ale students from Russia, Austria, Italy, the USA, Bulgaria, England, South Africa, Turkey, Spain and Canada.
World WIZO Chairperson, Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, has given tremendous support to the collaboration with Na'ale, urging youth village directors to "bring as many students as possible," because of its role as a vehicle for realizing the Zionist dream in the 21st century.