August 10, 2009 / 20 Av 5769
While hosting an American family in their home for coffee and home-baked bread at the Jewish Agency's Mevasseret Zion Absorption Center, an aspiring young new immigrant shared her dream with her American guests: “I want to work in the medical field,” she said proudly. For Larry Stern, CEO and Chairman of Talecris Bioptherapeutics, the intimate discussion was especially meaningful, and “her smile will long be remembered.”
During their visit to Israel, the Stern family from Pittsburgh – Larry, his wife, Becky, and his son, Jason, who recently graduated from Cornell University – toured the absorption center facilities, learned more about Ethiopian culture and history and met with resident children and adults. From listening in on adult Hebrew language ulpan classes to joining children in arts and crafts activities, the Stern family was warmly welcomed into the hearts and even the homes of Absorption Center residents.
Over traditional Ethiopian coffee and home-baked bread, the Stern family gathered in the living room of a new immigrant family to hear, on a more intimate level, about their experiences making aliyah and integrating into Israeli society. Despite their having recently arrived from Ethiopia, the new immigrants were eager to talk about their optimism about their new lives in Israel and share their joy in finally arriving here.
In a personal thank you letter to the Jewish Agency, Larry described the emotional, and even inspiring, impact of his family's visit:
"Becky, Jason and I truly enjoyed our visit to the Mevasseret Zion Absorption Center. The approach to provide education, cultural awareness and a sense of community to maximize the chance for successful absorption must be a best-in-class model for the world to follow. Perhaps more significant than the model, the commitment and warmth of the staff was very evident. We easily could have spent all day with the children and we were touched by their creativity, curiosity and overall zest for learning.
We also enjoyed the hospitality from the family that served us coffee, home-baked bread and popcorn. The smile from the daughter who has career aspirations in the medical field will be long remembered.”