117 Youth Graduate High School at Yemin Orde Youth Village in Israel.

Special guest from New York, Susan Claster, delivers keynote address with meaningful message of courage and hope as graduates look ahead to productive lives in Israel.

ImpactIsrael congratulates the 2018 high school graduating class of Yemin Orde Youth Village. On June 18, 2018, at an outdoor ceremony at the Village, 117 young adults proudly accepted their graduation certificates in anticipation of the next hopeful chapters in their lives. The graduation ceremony was attended by hundreds of friends, family, staff and special guests.

Special guest, Susan Claster, a resident of Roslyn, New York, delivered an inspiring and deeply personal commencement address to the graduates. Susan, and her husband, Mark, are longtime supporters of ImpactIsrael and travel to Israel annually to visit the Village as well as family and friends. Mark Claster serves as a board member for ImpactIsrael. Photo at right:  Racheli Yaso-Ngatuo, Yemin Orde’s Director of Visitor Relations and Outreach Programs, translates for Susan Claster (on right) during graduation keynote address.

“You’ve overcome a lot to get to this point – your personal stories of courage and triumph both lift the human spirit and inspire it,” Susan Claster said.  “Over the years I’ve realized that conquering my fears of the unknown does not mean erasing them. The key to overcoming them lies in learning to manage them effectively so that they don’t manage you.”

Yemin Orde’s graduates are an integral part of Israeli society

Of the 117 graduating seniors, 38 percent will join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and 47 percent will join a 10-month gap year leadership program (Mechina in Hebrew), after which they will serve in the IDF. Other graduates will postpone their military service to continue their studies or they will serve in Israel’s national service.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have a supportive family who has always been there for me as I’ve reached milestones in my life, and I would encourage you to reach out to those special people in your lives for support when you need it,” said Claster. “Whatever the road ahead holds for you – be it the army, college or a career — I want you to know that I am one of the many friends you have from around the around the world who is so proud and excited for you.”

With the help of Yemin Orde’s dedicated staff, its community of meaning and care as well as its successful Village Way educational methodology, at-risk youth overcome past traumas, develop confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills in order to be productive members of Israeli society. Graduates are part of the daily fabric of Israel serving in the military and holding jobs in law, health care, technology, education, the arts, music and more.

As Shmuli Bing, Director, Yemin Orde Youth Village, handed out graduation certificates, he reminded youth to remain positive and hopeful, despite challenges that may appear on their life journey. (Photo at left: Shmuli Bing congratulates a recent graduate)

“Happiness and success is achieved through effort. Remember to set the right kind of goals for yourself and work toward overcoming obstacles on the way. These obstacles can also teach us and help us grow,” Bing said.

Our graduates remain connected to the Village for life

Following the graduation ceremony and a special dinner, the evening’s festivities included an original musical production that reflected the teens’ transformative experience at the Village.

Yemin Orde staff and educators remain in contact with graduates, even into adulthood. Its Graduate Program provides academic scholarships and financial assistance in times of need, as well as mentoring and emotional support.

The Village’s Graduate House is open to graduates for short-term stays while on military leave, on Shabbat, or have no other place to live in Israel.

Click here to read more about Yemin Orde’s graduates.

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