June 19, 2008 / 16 Sivan 5768
It's ironic to find Yana Dorofeyeva (23) buried in books, studying for her upcoming college exams, because Yana doesn't live 'by the book'. In fact, just the opposite: Recounting what brought her to Israel, Yana repeats the following motto often and with earnest conviction: "You can only learn so much from books before you have to go and experience it for yourself."
Yana grew up in the bustling city of Almaty in Kazakhstan. After learning about her Jewish identity, she became an active member of the local Jewish Agency Activity Center. But it was the interaction with a pair of Jewish Agency emissaries that left a deep impression on Yana. As individuals who lived in Israel, Natalya and Itzik brought to life all the information Yana was learning about. "It's one thing to know about a place from books. It's another thing to meet the people and hear their experiences firsthand," she recalls.
In 2003, Yana came to Israel on birthright. Although it was a short trip, it was powerful. "On that trip, I knew that I wanted to be here in Israel. I knew that this was my home. I saw that something was missing from my life. Being here, I began to feel like I was a part of something, a people and a nation," she explains.
Upon returning to Kazahkstan, Yana enrolled in a training program in Tashkent to become a madricha and taught in a Jewish Agency-sponsored Sunday school for Jewish children. She also enrolled in a local college and began studying marketing and economics toward a BA degree. Although she was working toward her future, something still called to her. "I'm the kind of person who wants to know more about the world around me. More than what books can tell me, I want to experience it," she asserts.
In 2005, after participating in a Jewish Agency Summer Camp in Almaty, Yana decided to make aliyah. She moved to the Calanit Absorption Center in Ashkelon and joined the Selah TAKA program for young new immigrants with academic backgrounds. Specially designed for new immigrants, ages 17-30, from Eastern European countries and the FSU, Selah TAKA, Hebrew acronyms for Students Arriving Without their Parents and Pre-Academic Program, combines intensive academic-level instruction with preparation for the college matriculation exam and introduction to life as an Israeli college student.
Yana is now in her second year of studies toward a BA degree in economics and management at Ashkelon Academic College. She is working hard, living her dream and very happy. Her ideology fuels her ambitions to stay and succeed in Israel. "It's about making your dream your reality and not just listening to what the books tell you. This is my home. This is my future."