May 10, 2007 / 22 Iyar 5767
“Barely a day went by in Hungary that I was not verbally or physically assaulted because I was Jewish. I wanted to live my life in peace, without having to look behind me all the time. When a
Jewish Agency emissary explained my aliyah options, which included the TAKA program, I came
to Israel for the first time, and stayed.”
“I had a difficult childhood in Budapest,” says 29-year-old Thomas Bonyhard. “My parents divorced when I was young, and I was their only child.”
Thomas attended an orthodox Jewish high school in Hungary and loved learning about Israel. In 1996, he joined his father in Germany and studied textile management, in preparation for running the family’s textile business. But after returning to Budapest, Thomas was not content. “It is very hard to
advance in Hungary if you are not in the higher echelons of power. This fact, combined with the blatant anti-Semitism, led me to come home to Israel.”
The fact that Thomas had never visited Israel did not deter him from making aliyah. He learned about his aliyah options from the Jewish Agency emissary in Budapest and decided to make Israel his home. “I speak five languages. I have a lot of life experience. I have the energy and strength to work hard and build a future for myself. There was nothing holding me back from making aliyah.”
Thomas’ first home was at the Jewish Agency’s Calanit Absorption Center in Ashkelon, where he participated in the Jewish Agency’s TAKA program. This five month program consists of learning Hebrew on an academic level and preparing for continued higher education. He lived with other new immigrant adults from around the world and enjoyed the open, friendly atmosphere.
Thomas volunteered for the civil guard and enjoys the interaction he has with the residents of Ashkelon. “I am volunteering from my heart,” says Thomas. “I want to contribute to this great country.”
Thomas has completed his Hebrew language ulpan and will do his army service with Magen David Adom (MADA), Israel’s emergency first aid service. He then plans to study for his MA in political science at one of Israel’s universities.
“I heard that Israel is a land of opportunity, and I will make sure that this is true for me. I will raise my family and build my future here.”