December 11, 2006 / 20 Kislev 5767
Lora Yagudin (24) grew up in the town of Sochi, situated on the Black Sea in southern Russia.
Her maternal grandfather was jailed because he was Jewish. As a result, Lora’s grandmother burned all of their documents, including her mother’s birth certificate.
When the Jewish Agency for Israel opened their offices in Sochi, Lora’s parents went there to get matzah and wine for Passover and heard about the Na’aleh program for Jewish youth from the FSU. Lora’s parents felt that she would have better educational opportunities in Israel, and together with Lora they decided she would begin her high school studies in Israel. “This was my parent’s investment in my future, and now I can appreciate the tremendous sacrifice they made, although they missed me terribly.”
Lora completed her high school matriculation at Kibbutz Gan Shmuel. This was followed by her army service in the Air Force Security Department. As a lone soldier, Lora continued living on the Kibbutz, which became her second home.
Following her discharge from the army, Lora studied at the University of Haifa, where she received a Jewish Agency supported Student Authority Scholarship. She lived at the Jewish Agency Aba Houshi Student Absorption Center with other students from all over the world.
Lora is now studying for her MA in urban planning and architecture at the prestigious Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. During the war she remained at Aba Houshi, although Katyusha rockets fell very close. “Who ever thought that Haifa, in the heart of Israel, would be under attack,” says
Lora. “At first I was afraid to go to sleep at night because I thought I wouldn’t hear the sirens. I spent many nights sleeping in the bomb shelter.”
“In spite of the war, there was a special atmosphere at Aba Houshi. We were mostly all students with no family in Israel and nowhere to go. The Jewish Agency counselors were with us and we all assisted the new Ethiopian students who had just arrived to Israel. We were like one big family.”