March 28, 2007 / 9 Nissan 5767
There are some things that, simply put, make Jews around the world proud to call Israel their homeland. Israel’s investment in the education and advancement of new immigrant young people is one of these things. Each year the Jewish Agency enriches the future of the Jewish people by supporting Student Authority Scholarships that provide full college tuition for thousands of new immigrants. These scholarships are part of the Jewish Agency's mission to strengthen Israel’s greatest natural resource – the next generation.
Argentinean-born Daniel Saadia Maoz, 29, is a bright young man who exudes the truly rare combination of optimism and realism. In 2002 he fulfilled a lifelong dream and made aliyah. “I was a Zionist from the time I was born," says Daniel. "When I was twelve I already knew I would live in Israel."
| Daniel Saadia Maoz |
Daniel was determined to go to college, but he was not sure how he would manage to work and pay college tuition. “Basically, without the help of the Jewish Agency, everything would have been harder,” says Daniel. “It would have been virtually impossible for me to get a college education in Israel.” With the incredible financial burden of college tuition lifted by the Student Authority Scholarship, Daniel was able to focus on his studies and earned his BA in international relations and the history of the Jewish people from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Today, Daniel is close to completing his MA in Middle Eastern studies and international relations, also at the Hebrew University. Additionally, he is widely involved in Israel advocacy. Daniel teaches, writes and lectures in a variety of settings, including work with AIPAC, the pro-Israel American lobby group.
Daniel has big plans and they all involve contributing to Israel. He will continue to work as an advocate for Israel, perhaps in one of the government ministries or the Israel Defense Forces and he is even considering pursuing a doctoral degree. “I am proud of, and believe in the path of the state of Israel and the Jewish people,” he says.
The impact of Jewish Agency supported Student Authority Scholarships is unprecedented. Young people, especially those coming from countries of distress or making aliyah alone, who do not have the financial means to pursue higher education are going on not only to receive their degrees, but to work in the country’s top professions.
Esti Elias, 27, used her scholarship to major in law at Ono Academic College. In 1985, at the age of seven, Esti and her family were clandestinely brought from their home in Ethiopia in the middle of the night to board a plane to Israel and make aliyah. She intends to give back to others what was so generously given to her. “There is so much to be done in the Ethiopian community. If we invest more in Ethiopian youth we can give them equal opportunities to succeed,” she says.
Benjamin (Teadrous) Aklom is another Ethiopian immigrant who attended college on a Jewish Agency supported Student Authority Scholarship. With his degree in biology from Bar Ilan University, he will pursue his dream of conducting academic research on the restorative medical properties of indigenous Ethiopian plants. “I want to integrate the natural healing powers of Ethiopian plants and herbs into Israeli natural medicine," he says.
Maya Nahor, a new immigrant from Spain, echoes the sentiments of Daniel, Esti and Benjamin. "There is no other country in the world that embraces new citizens like Israel," says Maya enthusiastically. "What other country pays for the college education of new immigrants? What other country invests so much in making sure that young people who come to Israel alone have so much opportunity to get ahead. It's really incredible."
The scholarships are available to all new immigrants under the age of 30 for three years of undergraduate studies or graduate studies. For some students, their first year is a pre-academic preparatory program (mechina). During the third year, all of the students work for four hours a week in volunteer community activities.
Says Lora Yagudin, a scholarship recipient from Russia who thoroughly enjoyed her volunteer work, "Not only am I getting so much from Israel, but I am giving back in return."
Jewish Agency supported Student Authority Scholarships reflect the values upon which Israel was founded and built – equal opportunity, support for educational pursuits and ensuring the future of the Jewish people.