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Boys Town Jerusalem – From Vocational School to Premier Technological Institution

posted Aug 10, 2021

In 1948, Rabbi Alexander Linchner, rented space and established a print shop and a carpentry shop. His vision was to teach skills to the orphans of the Holocaust to enable them to become self-sufficient, productive citizens who would build the new land of Israel.

Over the last 70+ years, the Boys Town program has continued to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of Israel and the global society.

Boys Town Jerusalem (BTJ) is currently one of Israel’s premier educational institutions located in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood of Jerusalem. Since its founding, BTJ has pursued its mission of turning young boys from limited backgrounds into young men with limitless futures. To date, there are more than 7,500 graduates who hold key military, industry and business positions throughout Israel.

Each year, almost 1,000 students attend classes at the junior high and high school level. The school provides an excellent technical and general education, enhanced with meaningful Jewish learning. The students also receive emotional support, nourishing meals and a safe and comfortable place to live. The experience at Boys Town provides the students with the skills, knowledge, values and confidence so that they can make a positive contribution to society.

Upon completion of this curriculum, a select group of students compete for a place in BTJ's flagship technological program, the College of Applied Engineering (CAE) which was established in 1971 in cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces. If accepted, they receive a two-year deferment of their military service to attend.

The objectives of the BTJ CAE are to prepare students to meet the unprecedented demand for highly qualified and trained applied engineers.

There are currently 130 students enrolled in the program. At CAE, students can choose to study electrical, software, electronic or applied computer network engineering. They take courses in communications, computers, microprocessors, industrial electronics, control and regulation, microwaves, radio and electro optics, robotics, VHDL, and digital systems processing.

Each year, the students complete a final project alone or with partners. The project must have very real, practical, life-saving applications. The final products are adjudicated by the Ministry of Education and in some cases, the IDF. They are judged on their merit, research and originality. Some of the recent projects have been a Robotic Firefighter, Collision-Prevention at Intersections, “Green Light” for Ambulances, Railroad Crossing Collision Blocker, Preventing “Friendly Fire” and an Alert for a Child Left in a Car. 

Upon graduation, the men are awarded an Associate Degree in Applied Engineering. These specially-trained soldiers enter the IDF for a minimum three-year stint as officers with advanced standing in the Air Force, Ordnance Corps, Intelligence Units and Ammunition Corps.

With their certificate as Applied Engineers they are highly valued by the IDF where many remain and become career military leaders. Others return to civilian life and join the booming high-tech industry or enter the field of engineering.

In the big wde world of the future, these students are way ahead of the game. According to CAE Advisor Mr. Lavie, “We have earned a rightful reputation as one of Israel’s leading institutions to offer a top-notch electronics education alongside high-level Jewish studies.

With Israel’s very survival dependent on the ability to maintain a competitive edge in technology, Boys Town Jerusalem is particularly proud of its students’ contributions—both in the IDF and, later, in the civilian high-tech world.

Due to the growing demand for these students, there is an urgent need to build a new state-of-the-art CAE computer laboratory.

The current computer lab does not provide an appropriate working environment for the students. The original floors are rubbed out. The windows are over 50 years old and do not keep the cold out. There is no heating or air conditioning which is difficult in the Middle East. The electrical system is outdated. The room hasn't been painted in decades and most of it is cinder block. The furniture is over 20 years old. The equipment is obsolete and inadequate. 

Canadian Friend of Boys Town Jerusalem is embarking on a capital campaign to completely renovate the CAE lab to ensure it provides the space for the students to gain the knowledge and skills they need.

The lab will be equipped with a modern fire extinguishing system and energy saving heating/air-conditioning. The room will have insulated walls, acoustical ceilings, energy efficient windows, LED lighting and new flooring. New work stations and computers will be purchased with the necessary software. Two smart projectors and a surround sound system will complete the renovation.



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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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