Strangers No More

This year at the Academy Awards, “Strangers No More,” an exceptional documentary whose central narrative revolves around the Hebrew language, won the Oscar for Best Short Documentary this year.Strangers No More is an incredibly-moving film about children from 48 different countries who have found political-asylum in Israel and now attend the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv.In recent years, Israel has become a primary destination for many refugees, especially those from Africa, who have fled from violence and persecution in their own countries. The refugees come from some of the most war-torn nations in the world including Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea and then cross into Israel from Egypt.In “Strangers No More,” children who have escaped these countries tell truly heart-rending stories of the violence they experienced in their homeland and how the Bialik-Rogozin School has helped them gain an education many of them could never have imagined.The Hebrew language is at the heart of this story. The children, having arrived from such a diverse set of countries, naturally could not communicate with each other or with their teachers. But out of necessity, they soon picked up the language, which helped them forge a bond between each other, the school, and their adopted country, Israel.The film focuses on three of the students: Johannes from Ethiopia, Esther from South Africa, and Muhammad from the Darfur region of Sudan. Their accounts of the suffering they experienced in their home countries are appalling, but the manner in which they were so lovingly educated by the staff of the Bialik-Rogozin School is uplifting.And having learned Hebrew, they are now eager to integrate into Israeli society, get jobs, and build new lives for themselves here.

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