"I wanted to come to Israel with an education and a profession," says Bruck.
Bruck worked for the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, followed by a stint at a human rights NGO. "I was responsible for establishing legal aid centers for those people who could not afford representation. We set up an election network to encourage people to vote and promote democracy. It was challenging and meaningful work."
At the age of 25, Bruck came to Israel and went directly to the Jewish Agency Calanit Absorption Center in Ashkelon. Although his family lives in Jerusalem, Bruck is participating in the Jewish Agency's TAKA program. TAKA is a five-month study program which prepares new immigrants for continued studies at institutions of higher education in Israel. The study curriculum includes academic courses in Hebrew, English, computers and other required university subjects. At the same time Bruck is living with other TAKA students from around the world: Russia, South America, North America, France and Eastern Europe. He feels that by living with Jewish people from so many different cultures, his own Jewish identity is changing and becoming stronger.
Upon completing the TAKA course Bruck plans to study at either Hebrew University or Bar-Ilan University and continue his work in human rights. "I have to try a lot harder here than in Ethiopia. I need to learn a new language and to adjust to the many different cultural and spiritual aspects to living in Israel. I know that my future here depends on me. I have to make it work."
At the same time, Bruck wants to reach out and help people, and is volunteering for the Jewish Agency's Big Brother program. "I came to Israel with a law degree and international experience. Although I made aliyah only a few short months ago, when I heard about the Big Brother program I immediately volunteered. I want to be a positive role model for Ethiopian children and help them to become upwardly mobile in Israeli society."
Bruck is working with two 12-year-old Ethiopian boys living in Ashkelon. "I help them with their schoolwork in English and math, and take them out to different places. We explore Ashkelon and are getting to know our new country together. But, more than that, I am a role model for them. They need someone to look up to and I think that I can make a real difference in their young lives."
Bruck feels that with their parents busy learning Hebrew and trying to adjust to their very different life in Israel, many of the children need someone to fill the vacuum and give them positive attention and encouragement.
While exploring education and employment opportunities Bruck wants to get to know and understand Israeli society and continue his work in the human rights field. He also wants to advance the Ethiopian community.
"There is a lot of work to be done in the Ethiopian community, and I am in an excellent position to break down stereotypes and show people that Ethiopian young people can succeed."
Written by Lisa Samin