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Ant Paige KatzI must share an amazing experience I had with my daughter who came home from her Na’ale programme for Pesach. Na’ale has been an incredible experience for Paige (pictured with myself and Livnat Katz, co-ordinator of the programme here during her recent visit).

While we’ve always been close, we have become so much closer. While we used to chat a lot, we now chat a heck-of-a-lot - and we share everything. Hers AND mine.

My little girl grew three years older in the past eight months.

I’ve been following with fascination the hurdles she has had to overcome. She has taken it in her stride. She has had to adapt to a far higher standard of education as well as her copious Ulpan studies. Not only has she coped, she has excelled!

As a community journalist, I have written much about the Na’ale programme’s meteoric rise among SA students and parents.

Much of the credit is due to the marketing efforts of Livnat Iss Katz.

Just last week Paige and I had the opportunity to pass on her experience when a medical professional friend (who knows Paige is in Israel on a free high school programme), told us his fourteen-year-old son had been captivated by a talk that Livnat had given at his school. As he is more religious than I, he asked if it could be the same programme. I explained how Na’ale accommodates frum kids at boys- and girls-only religious schools. He was battling to come to terms with how, at fifteen, his son would manage on his own in Israel. I explained how, while one is recalcitrant at first about sending young kids on a free study programme in Israel, they are anything but alone!

Paige and I couldn’t help telling him about the incredible level of support she has. The Na’ale programme staffers at each school are amazing and there are so many of them. From the programme head, medical and social welfare personnel to the boarding house heads and their councillors for smaller groups, down to the shinshinim who are doing gap-year work before being drafted into the army, there is always someone around to help.

The comradeship Paige has built with kids from sixteen countries is overwhelming.


I shared how I, as a seventeen-year-old, was put on a plane by my parents in October 1973. It was the Yom Kippur War and Israel needed volunteers. Fruit was rotting on trees, shattered houses needed to be rebuilt and everyone was in the army.

That wasn’t a planned event or programme. There was no support. ElAl flew in a many Jewish volunteers as they could, and the government packed us onto busses and dropped us off on kibbutzim. The kibbutzniks were running around trying to find accommodation and put us to work. I ended up on a kibbutz where the older remaining residents (not in the military) spoke Spanish as their first language and Hebrew second. Nobody could speak English except one other SA guy and I. King David School had never prepared us for this. It was sign-language and speed-learning Hebrew - on the job for the first few days and weeks.

I wasn’t much older than Paige. I survived. I signed up for three months and stayed for nine. But the chaos of that time of war was a far cry from the professional and ever-so-carefully thought-through programme that is Na’ale. I take my hat off to the Sochnut and Ministry of Education for putting together the Na’ale Elite Academy programme – which has seen 16,000 students matriculating (completing their bagrut) since 1992.

Anyone who would like to find out more - do so soon. The screening in SA is coming up on 15 July (it only takes place once a year) when Israeli psychometric evaluators will be here. They are not only looking for the smartest or most worthy – simply whether they believe the kids are emotionally ready to make the move. Contact Livnat at 011 645 2574 or mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

I am sure that Paige Louise Sarah Katz will also be only too pleased to engage with parents who are interested.

As any reader will know the name Katz is common and we are in no way related to Livnat - well, way back maybe but not that we know of. :)