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Mekor Rishon 2015

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Aliyat Hano’ar — The Challenge Anglo Youth Face in Israel

Click here for the original article in Hebrew: Mekor Rishon 2015

Crossroads was featured in an article in Mekor Rishon by Zvika Klein in May 2015. Klein joined Crossroads social worker Leah Sacks-Hagelburg  for a night of street outreach and tour of the Center. Here is a synopsis in English for non-Hebrew readers.

Klein describes witnessing hundreds of English-speaking teens, many of them high-school dropouts, hanging out in “Crack Square” one Thursday night. “Here is an issue of poor absorption for children of Western Olim that is practically not known” he explains. People generally think that olim from Western countries “come established, or that they have strong financial backing”, but often the financial difficulty is just one of many issues they face. Klein points out that as more people from Western countries make Aliyah, the problem is likely to worsen.

The Aliyah itself is part of the issue. “They don’t feel 100% Israeli, but they also don’t feel 100% American.” However, at Crossroads, the problems often extend beyond. “Sacks-Hagelburg…emphasizes that on the whole, we’re speaking about families that already had problems and Aliyah just made them worse.”

Robbie Sassoon explains that “Aliyah is full of tension. When you don’t have strong relationships within the family or at school before making Aliyah, Aliyah adds a lot of tension to the already problematic situation. A teen will be alone, participate less at school, not know the language,” effectively worsening any pre-existing issues.

On the streets, Sacks-Hagelburg has “brought teens to the hospital or helped teens find a place to sleep.”  Her clients can call her at any time and other teens can reach out through the Crisis Hotline. Because teens feel like outsiders, many drop out of school and never attain their bagrut. Instead they prepare for the “American bagrut” or GED through Crossroads’ GED program. These are just a few of the services that Crossroads provides to help assimilate the troubled population of Anglo immigrant youth.

“We see teens at their lowest point when they’re on the streets and we watch them become productive members of society, working, getting married, renting their own apartments.” Sassoon shared. “We are their “lifeline” — their only chance to get out of crisis and integrate in Israel.”