Youth Aliyah (Hebrew: עלית הנוער, Aliyat Hano'ar, German:
Jugend-Alijah) is a Jewish organization that rescued thousands of
Jewish children from the Nazis during the Third Reich. Youth Aliyah
arranged for their resettlement in Palestine in kibbutzim and youth
villages that became both home and school.
5 See also
7 External links
Recha Freier, a rabbi's wife, founded
Youth Aliyah in Berlin on the
same day that Adolf Hitler took power, Monday 30 January 1933. The
organisation was founded to protect German Jewish youth by sending
them to pioneer training programs in Palestine after completing
elementary school. The idea was supported by the World Zionist
Organization. Freier supervised the organization's activities in
Germany, and Henrietta Szold, after at first opposing Freier's
initiative, in Jerusalem.
Israeli postage stamps celebrating Youth Aliyah
Szold was skeptical about the merits of Freier's proposal because, as
the person responsible for social services by the
Jewish Agency for
all of Palestine, she was extremely pressed for funds and loath to
take on a new untried program for German Jewish children. Then Recha
Freier approached Dr. Siegfried Lehman, founder and director of Ben
Shemen Youth Village. He agreed to accept 12 children. Henrietta Szold
was informed and changed her mind, agreeing to organize and lead the
At the time, Tamar de Sola Pool, a former national president of
Hadassah, and her husband had just completed a visit to Palestine and
were about to return to the US. Szold met her and explained the
decision to initiate the major effort of
Youth Aliyah and that Mrs de
Sola Pool must convince
Hadassah to accept it as an important project.
She was convinced and, after convincing Hadassah, called Eddie Cantor,
the actor-comedian. He wrote her a check for $25,000 to start the
Hadassah has continued to be the major supporter of Youth
Aliyah to this day.
With Hitler's rise to power the Nuremberg Racial Laws were enacted in
1935 and on 31 March 1936 German elementary schools were closed to
Jewish children. Szold coordinated an appeal to Jewish communities
around the world in conjunction with the Jewish Agency.
After a brief period of training in Germany,
Youth Aliyah youngsters
were placed on kibbutzim for two years to learn farming and Hebrew.
Ein Harod in the
Jezreel Valley was one of the first
cooperative settlements to host such groups. Many of the children
found it difficult being separated from their families, and they often
realized the reasons for their journey and that they would not be
returning to Europe. Parents struggled with the decision to send off
their children to Palestine and expected to join them there later on,
however many perished in the Holocaust.
Youth Aliyah had a quota
system in which they required at least 60% of the children to be boys,
in order to ensure that a substantial number could work on the
Just before the outbreak of World War II, when immigration
certificates to Palestine became difficult to obtain, Youth Aliyah
activists in London came up with an interim solution whereby groups of
young people would receive pioneer training in countries outside the
Third Reich until they could immigrate to Palestine. Out of the
approximately 10,000 children who migrated to Great Britain under the
auspices of the
Kindertransport program, some intended to reach
Youth Aliyah at a later time. After this British
policy was formulated in November 1938, it facilitated not only
thousands of Jewish children settling in the United Kingdom on a
permanent basis, but also 3,400 staying there temporarily on the way
to Palestine. As the war spread across Europe, the program expanded
to save children from occupied countries such as Yugoslavia.
Freier experienced significant opposition from the Jewish community in
Germany, who continued to believe that appeasement and accommodation
was the best course for Germany's Jews. In 1938 she was expelled from
the board of the organisation that she had founded, the Jewish Youth
Support Committee, because of her controversial use of illegal
methods. In 1940 she was denounced by colleagues for anti-Nazi
agitation, but was warned in time, and managed to flee to Palestine,
taking 40 teenagers with her.
World War II
World War II and the Holocaust, emissaries were sent to Europe
to locate child survivors in displaced persons camps. A Youth Aliyah
office was opened in Paris. Children's homes in Eastern Europe were
moved to Western Europe,
Youth Aliyah believing (correctly) that
immigration from Communist countries would be difficult later on.
In all 5,000 teenagers were brought to Palestine before World War II
and educated at
Youth Aliyah boarding schools. Others were smuggled
out of occupied Europe in the early years of the war, some to
Palestine, others to the United Kingdom and other countries. After the
war an additional 15,000, most of them Holocaust survivors, were
brought to Palestine.
Youth Aliyah became a department of the Jewish Agency. Over
the years, the organization has brought young people to Israel from
North Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Soviet
Union and Ethiopia.
Youth Aliyah Child Rescue continues to play a role in the absorption
of young newcomers to Israel, particularly from the former Soviet
Union and Africa. In addition, the organisation offers a second chance
to Israeli youth who have been designated ‘at risk’ by child care
Children in the care of
Youth Aliyah are housed in five youth
residential villages in Israel. The villages include schools, dorms,
clubhouses and playgrounds, and offer emotional support, education,
developmental training and extra-curricular activity. More than 2,000
children have found a home and a new and more meaningful life through
The children come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and often have
serious emotional, psychological and behavioral difficulties. Many
come from disadvantaged, low income or dysfunctional families, very
often single-parent families. They are often at risk because of
poverty, neglect, domestic violence, sexual abuse, drug or alcohol
abuse, mental illness, homelessness or delinquent behaviour. Other
children suffer from cancer and need respite care, while others come
from families that have been victims of terror.
Alonei Yitzhak was founded in 1948, houses 400 youth, and emphasises
music, drama and dance. Neve Hadassah, near Netanya, houses 310 youth.
Talpiot, in Hadera, houses 200 youth. Torah o’Mikzoah, south of
Hadera, caters specifically to religious teenage boys unable to fit
into a high school yeshiva environment. Alongside education in torah,
it offers vocational training in motor mechanics and engineering.
Yemin Orde, near Haifa, houses 500 youth. It has twice received the
President’s Award for Excellence in Education. Outreach programs run
throughout the summer months. This facility was destroyed by wildfire
in 2011, and is being rebuilt.
Youth Aliyah was awarded the
Israel Prize for its
contribution to education, being the first year in which the Prize was
awarded to an organization.
Youth Aliyah after the establishment of the State of
Israel include Moshe Kol, Meir Gottesmann (1978–1984), Uri Gordon
and Eli Amir.
Israel Prize recipients
^ Gudrun Maierhof (2009). "Recha Freier". Jewish Women: A
Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Jewish Women's Archive.
Retrieved 7 December 2015.
^ a b Rescue Jewish Youth! A Message from Henrietta Szold, January
1936, The Jewish Agency-
Youth Aliyah Bulletin, January 1987
^ a b Kaplan, Marion A. (1999). Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish
life in Nazi Germany. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 116-117.
^ Last Train to London, Eva Michaelis-Stern, The Jewish Agency-Youth
Aliyah Bulletin, January 1987
^ 40 Years of Friendship, Moshe Kol, The
Jewish Agency - Youth Aliyah
Bulletin," January 1987
^ a b 70th anniversary of Youth Aliyah
Israel Prize recipients in 1958 (in Hebrew)".
Israel Prize Official
Site. Archived from the original on January 17, 2010.
Media related to
Youth Aliyah at Wikimedia Commons
Guide to the
Youth Aliyah Records in the
Hadassah Archives, 1928-2009
on long-term deposit at the
American Jewish Historical Society
American Jewish Historical Society at the
Center for Jewish History