March 30, 2008 / 23 Adar II 5768
“My aliyah was always very present with me,” says Ewa Misztal, 28, who fulfilled a dream many years in the making when she immigrated to Israel from Poland in January 2007. Ewa first visited Israel ten years ago as a guide for March of the Living, a unique program that takes high school students on a two-week journey – first to Poland and then to Israel. By the time the trip was over, Ewa knew that she wanted to live in Israel.
Ewa began studying at Israel’s Bar Ilan University through a foreign student exchange program but went back to Poland after just two years when her grandmother, with whom she is very close, fell ill. It would be another eight years before she returned to Israel.
During her time back in Poland, Ewa graduated from the University of Gdansk with a degree in European law, worked as an assistant at the Israeli embassy, and became a manager at the Jewish Agency’s offices in Warsaw where she oversaw operations and activities of the Education and Aliyah departments. “All of our activities – be it Hebrew and Jewish education classes or programs that bring young people to Israel – were designed to create the understanding that we are all part of Israel, no matter where we live,” says Ewa.
After working at the Jewish Agency for two years, Ewa began to refocus on her future. “I didn’t see myself living in Poland because I was already in love with Israel and I decided, this is the time to make aliyah,” she remembers. When she arrived in Israel, Ewa lived in Jerusalem at the Jewish Agency’s Ulpan Etzion Absorption Center where she learned Hebrew and met the friends with whom she now shares an apartment in Tel Aviv.
“There were 100 of us at Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem. We were from every country you can think of, all joined by the goal of making aliyah and living a happy Jewish life.”
For Ewa, who was born during the Communist period in Poland when open Jewish expression was forbidden, the revival of Jewish communal life that has taken place in Poland over the last decade is nothing short of incredible. She credits much of this renewal to the Jewish Agency’s summer and winter camps and other programs for Jewish youth and families. Ewa both attended these camps and was a counselor there. “It was a beautiful opportunity for Jews from all over Poland to meet together and participate in Jewish life,” she says.
The Jewish Agency strives to encourage and facilitate aliyah among Jews across Eastern Europe and the FSU through innovative initiatives in the fields of Jewish and Israel education and culture. Join us in our efforts.
Learn more about these exciting and transformative programs by visiting the Aliyah Department and Jewish Zionist Education Department homepages.