Youth Aliyah

Youth Aliyah

The Youth Aliyah (Hebrew: Aliyat Hano'ar) is a Jewish organization that rescued 22,000 Jewish children from the Nazis during the Third Reich, arranging for their resettlement in Palestine in kibbutzim and youth villages that became both home and school.

Recha Freier, a rabbi's wife, founded the organization in 1933. The idea was supported by the World Zionist Organization. Recha Freier supervised the organization's activities in Germany, and Henrietta Szold in Jerusalem.

Henrietta Szold was originally skeptical of Freier's proposal that German youngsters be sent to pioneer training programs in Palestine after completing elementary school. She believed that Germany offered better educational opportunities for Jewish children. However, Hitler's rise to power and the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws convinced her otherwise. On March 31, 1936, even German elementary schools were closed to Jewish children. [ "Rescue Jewish Youth! A Message from Henrietta Szold, January 1936," The Jewish Agency-Youth Aliyah Bulletin, January 1987]

After a brief period of training in Germany, Youth Aliyah youngsters were placed on kibbutzim for two years to learn farming and Hebrew. Kibbutz Ein Harod in the Jezreel Valley was one of the first cooperative settlements to host such groups. [ "Rescue Jewish Youth! A Message from Henrietta Szold, January 1936," The Jewish Agency-Youth Aliyah Bulletin, January 1987]

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. Great Britain agreed to take in 10,000 endangered children, some from Youth Aliyah groups. [ "Last Train to London," Eva Michaelis-Stern, The Jewish Agency-Youth Aliyah Bulletin, January 1987]

After the Holocaust and World War II, emissaries were sent to Europe to locate children survivors in Displaced Persons Camps. Children's homes in eastern Europe were moved to Western Europe, fearing that evacuation from Communist countries might be difficult later on. A Youth Aliyah office was opened in Paris. ["40 Years of Friendship," Moshe Kol, The Jewish Agency - Youth Aliyah Bulletin," January 1987]

Directors of Youth Aliyah after the establishment of the State of Israel include Meir Gottesman (1978-1984), Uri Gordon and Eli Amir.


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