(New York, NY -- August 04, 2005) -- Hadassah National Board member, Leah Reicin, of Skokie, Illinois, was a keynote speaker today at the three-day Youth Assembly at the United Nations. In her capacity as the Hadassah National Chair of Youth Aliyah, Reicin told the dramatic story of this Israeli national youth-service project, beginning in the 1930s when Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah, took on the task of saving the lives of German Jewish children.
She presented moving portraits of Youth Aliyah’s array of successful efforts to integrate disadvantaged youth into Israel society, including programs that teach children literacy, social customs, and nurturing skills, among others. Communal history is also an important element of Youth Aliyah education, typified by the powerful annual trip to Poland, when diverse Israeli youth – from the Ethiopian to the Russian Jewish communities – come into close contact with the World War II history of Europe’s community of murdered Jews. In attendance at Reicin’s plenary session were hundreds of representatives to permanent UN missions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and UN agencies attending the second annual youth assembly on the occasion of the UN’s 60th anniversary.
“The great dream of Youth Aliyah is integrating its population into the mainstream general population,” Reicin explained. “The results are seen in the tens of thousands of ordinary people who live normal, thriving lives and can now go forward and contribute their own special magic to the world. The real success of Youth Aliyah is knowing that it takes more than a village to rear a child. It takes an entire people.”
Reicin was just re-appointed by Hadassah National President June Walker for her third one-year term as National Chair of Youth Aliyah. Under the banner of Youth Aliyah, Hadassah supports three youth villages: Ramat Hadassah Szold, Hadassah Neurim, and Meir Shfeya. In addition, Hadassah contributes to five non-residential high schools and more than a dozen community projects that assist children at risk.