Students Speak


25, from Marin County, California

I was born in Israel and came to the U.S. at the age of five with my parents and two siblings. We settled in Novato (Marin County), just north of San Francisco. Within three months my arrival, I entered public school and began a rigorous program of ESL. Coming from Israel, the shift in culture was a challenge for me, but eventually, I learned to adapt.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my brother, then a junior studying at UCLA, took a trip to Israel with JAM. The trip, about two weeks long, was an exciting tour of Israel with thought-provoking classes on a wide range of Jewish topics. My brother returned to L.A. with a sense of having connected back to his Jewish roots, and his energy and inspiration were contagious.

The summer of my junior year in high school, I had the opportunity to tour Israel for the very first time. I participated in a month-long trip for high school students from all over the Bay Area, organized by the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay. Among the many beautful sites we visited were the Golan Heights in the north, the Negev Desert in the south, and the ancient fortress Matzada � the site of last Judean revolt. For the first time in my life, I felt the deep connection to Israel and the Jewish people.

I made the decision to return to Israel on aliya after graduation from high school. Since, up until that point, my education had not included any Jewish education, I decided to enroll at Neve Yerushalayim College, a dynamic institution for women who wish to increase their Jewish knowledge. I obtained a $1,000 scholarship toward my studies from the Jewish Federation in San Francisco. I decided to continue my studies at Neve for two years, after which I completed a degree in Liberal Arts. I currently work for a law firm in Jerusalem, which I have been priviliged to make my home for the past seven years.