September 9, 2007 / 26 Elul 5767
Andrei (Dan) Karmi may have spent most of his life in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) in Russia, but if you ask him today, he will definitely tell you that he is Israeli. After only a few short months at the Jewish Agency’s Ulpan Etzion absorption center, Andrei is nearly fluent in Hebrew. He spends his time immersing himself in Israeli life and serving as a counselor in various youth programs that are sponsored by the Jewish Agency and its partners throughout the world, so that he can share his love of Israel with other young adults and inspire them to come to Israel as well.
Andrei believes that his true life as a Jew began when he was nine years old. "I went to Sunday school in Russia; there I studied Judaism and Jewish history. I was there to age 16. When I was 16 I began work as a youth counselor in the summer camps and Jewish youth club," he relates. Already then he knew that he wanted to move to Israel. "I wanted to make aliyah immediately but my parents preferred that I should complete my studies in Russia and only then immigrate to Israel."
Andrei began studying communications at Volgograd University and after completing two years of studies, he came to Israel in the framework of the Jewish Agency's "Masa" program. Here he studied history, Hebrew and Jewish tradition and return to Volgograd where he completed his BA in communications. At the same time he worked as a school teacher in a school affiliated with the Habad network and perfected his Hebrew.
Leon Lewttas from the Israel Department was most favorably impressed by the young man who is staying at Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem and this is what he has to tell:
"Last Wednesday I, together with a representative of the Fellowship of Christians and Jews, interviewed three young college grads from Russia who since July have been living and studying at Ulpan Etzion. All three are very impressive individuals. I was particularly taken by Andrei who prefers to be called Dan according to his Hebrew name. Although he is only 22, he has managed to participate in Jewish Agency programs, first as a student and over the last five years as a counselor in the summer camps and as an instructor of Jewish history and a teacher in the Jewish school in Volgagrad. Andrei has a strong command of Hebrew and despite his recent arrival he is studying in the advanced level four class at Ulpan Etzion. He is very highly motivated."
Andrei's (Dan's) parents live in Russia and he hopes to complete the ulpan and enlist in the Israel Defense Forces. After his discharge, he wants to be a tour guide in Israel. "I love to tour the land of Israel because it has so many stunning places," he tells us.
With the support of donors throughout the world, the Jewish Agency can continue to fund programs that provide young Jews like Andrei from the former Soviet Union with a love of Israel and a sense of belonging in the Jewish world. These programs have inspired thousands of young Jews to leave their homes and build better lives for themselves in Israel- with your help these numbers will continue to grow. To learn more about how you can contribute to these vital programs, click here.