ZOA’s Kfar Silver School In Israel Awarded “Prize For Excellence”
September 5, 2003

New York – The ZOA is proud to announce that its school in Ashkelon, Israel-Kfar Silver-has been awarded the Israel Ministry of Education’s “Prize for Excellence.” In announcing its decision, the Ministry noted the high rate of Kfar Silver students passing their baccalaureate examinations, the contributions of the students to the surrounding community, and the high ratings that pupils give the school’s administration, curriculum, and extracurricular programs. The Prize will formally be bestowed at the Residence of the President of Israel, His Excellency Moshe Katsav.

Seventy-percent of Students Are New Immigrants

Kfar Silver, founded in 1954, is situated on 520 dunams of pastoral land in the south of Israel. Seventy percent of its 1,000 students are new immigrants, mostly from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, and Latin America. The school was recently selected by the Jewish National Fund as one of only four schools in Israel to run a pilot Zionism-enriched curriculum that may become the model for all Israeli schools in the future. Last year, Kfar Silver became the first junior high/high school in Israel to produce a web-based interactive mathematics curriculum for students around Israel who need extra help in the subject to learn over the internet.

Extensive Student Self-Government

The school is also distinct in its governance structure. The students are responsible for running most aspects of the huge campus that contains hundreds of dunams of farmland (which the students tend themselves), a zoo, a rescue shelter for dogs, a bird sanctuary, a herd of cows and state-of-the-art milking facility, Olympic size swimming pool and soccer field, indoor basketball stadium and gymnasium, one dozen dormitories, a two-story library and computer complex, a synagogue, and experimental greenhouses.

Ministry of Agriculture Awards

Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture has partnered with the school to have the students grow new crops that might be suitable for Israel’s arid climate. Many students taking part in these experiments and producing term-paper research findings have been awarded prizes by the Ministry of Agriculture. Kfar Silver also contains a facility with rabbits and other small mammals in which the students learn genetics by conducting controlled breeding experiments. Students are also responsible for campus security. Vesting so much responsibility in the students has enabled Kfar Silver to produce many civic and military leaders for Israel.

Named a Select “Na’aleh” School

Kfar Silver is also accredited by the Ministry of Absorption as one of the select “Na’aleh” schools in Israel. Na’aleh schools host pupils from the Diaspora who make aliyah but whose parents cannot yet accompany them. That 70% of Kfar Silver’s student body is comprised of new immigrants attests to the Ministry of Absorption’s high regard for Kfar Silver’s management of its Na’aleh program.

Weightlifting, Wrestling, and Track Championships

A number of the school’s young olim recently achieved international acclaim. An Ethiopian student at Kfar Silver is Israel’s long-distance running champion, and he represents Israel in international meets throughout Europe. Kfar Silver students from the former Soviet Union won last year’s European Weightlifting Championship, as well as Europe’s Wrestling Championship for high-schoolers. In fact, the former coach of the U.S.S.R.’s National Weightlifting Team is now on the faculty of Kfar Silver.

ZOA President Morton Klein remarks, “the accomplishments of ZOA’s Kfar Silver, under the leadership of Principal Tziona Lahav and Board Chairman Ya’akov Behar, are simply astonishing. The wide array of activities in which the students excel, their handling of nearly all responsibility for the operations of the massive plant, and now the academic success that Israel’s Ministry of Education has recognized with its Prize for Excellence, are all causes for great pride and satisfaction.”

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