November 20, 2008 / 22 Chesvan 5769
Sometimes it's the simplest decisions that bear the most impact on your future. For Roman Vaizman, a call from a Jewish Agency emissary inviting him to join a Youth Club activity seemed like a casual invitation to join up with some friends; it turned out to be so much more. "Growing up in Taraz, Kazakhstan I didn’t know anything about Judaism or Israel," recalls Roman. "Then I went to my first activity at the Jewish Agency Youth Club and I was fascinated by the learning, the togetherness and the feeling of community.”
Although Roman knew he was Jewish from his family, they didn’t celebrate holidays or ever talk about their Jewish heritage. But through the Jewish Agency Youth Club, Roman felt a deep connection to Judaism and to Israel. He went on to participate in the Jewish Agency’s counselor training course to lead youth groups and summer camps.
After completing high school Roman decided to make aliyah. "Early on I felt that Israel was my home," he explains. I told my parents "that I wanted to build a new life for myself and to raise my children in their own country. They understood this and gave me their blessing.”
Roman began his life in Israel at the Jewish Agency’s San Diego-IBIM Student Village, on the Selah program. Selah, a Hebrew acronym for students before their parents, is a pre-academic preparatory program that facilitates the successful immigration and absorption of young immigrants from the FSU who come to Israel alone. “My year at IBIM was amazing. It completely prepared me for life in Israel,” says Roman.
Today, Roman is a commander in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He was an outstanding student at IBIM, an outstanding soldier, and is now responsible for new recruits in basic training. “I am so proud to be in the army,” says Roman. “Our security is in our hands, and we must do everything we can to protect our country and ensure its future.”
The Jewish Agency works around the globe to strengthen Jewish identity and deepen connections to Israel through diverse and multifaceted Jewish educational programs. To learn more about our educational initiatives and programs, click here. To join us in our efforts, click here.