Volume 8, Issue 8 / Tammuz 5765 / August 2005
|"These women were motivated and worked very hard. And the results speak for themselves."|
Roll a perfect 300 game? Pitch a perfect game? How about winning a grand slam in bridge! Just ask any bowler, pitcher or bridge player how difficult a task this is! But, wait! How about the Jewish Agency going a perfect 16 for 16!!
Unbelievable? No, because that's exactly what the Jewish Agency along with its partners from the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, the Ministry of Labor, the municipality of Nahariya and the national network of community centers in Israel achieved. Yes, it threw a perfect game and everybody won!
Just a year ago, Marcel Loeb, a social worker who works in the northern region of the Jewish Agency, had the brilliant idea of developing a course for women emigrants from South America. "I knew that there was a need for early-childhood caretakers and assistants in kindergartens throughout the northern region of Israel. I also knew that there were many women who would love and professionally benefit from this type of job," explains Marcel at the end of the year party and ceremony. Now, all that she needed to implement the concept was participants, partners – and money!
"Marcel had this great idea so it was not hard for me to jump aboard and offer our services," explains Dina Tal, the director of the community center in Nahariya where the course was held five days a week. Still, there were many other pieces of the puzzle that had to fall into place before the program could begin.
The major funding piece was finally settled when the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford generously contributed the resources needed to operate the project.
Energetically, Marcel ran around and successfully recruited the required government ministries and the participants. Sylvia, one of the course graduates recalls, "I was a lawyer in Argentina and had, in a year and a half, passed all of the required tests in order to become a member of the Israeli bar. However, I couldn't converse in Hebrew or read a document! How could I practice law? I didn't know what to do!"
Along with 15 other women, Sylvia was recruited and joined the course. "I always loved young children," she acknowledges. Pamela, the new mother of a baby girl, interjects, "I was an assistant in a kindergarten in Argentina. Hebrew was also hard for me but I knew that I had the motivation and talent to complete the course."
The 9-month 1,000-hour course started in September 2004 and consisted of 200 hours of Hebrew (expanded ulpan) and 800 hours of academic studies that included courses in psychology, pedagogy, child development, first-aid and nutrition. There was also the hands-on side of the course where the women were given practical experience and assignments. One day each week they worked with children in kindergartens in areas closer to their homes such as Kiryat Bialik, Kiryat Motzkin, Akko and Nahariya.
"That was the best part," admits Yael. "I loved working with the kids but I also looked forward to learning together with the other women. It's incredible to think that less than a year ago, we could hardly speak Hebrew. But we had great teachers who believed in us and stuck with us."
Carmela, the Hebrew teacher, confesses that it was not an easy group to teach. However, "These women were motivated and worked very hard. And the results speak for themselves."
In addition to the remarkable outcome – 16 women started and 16 women finished the course – the true testimonial to the women and the professionals who developed and taught the course is that five women have already been found jobs!
|The true testimonial to the women and the professionals who developed and taught the course is that five women have already been found jobs! |
Indeed, a great achievement that was acknowledged in the certificate that each participant received. It reads, "Mazel tov on your wonderful achievement from your friends at the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. June 2005"
"The bottom line," says Dina Tal while hugging Marcel for probably the tenth time that evening, "is that this was all done for Zionism. If these women did not find jobs, they would have returned to South America with their families."
Sarah, the spokeswomen for the group said in her concluding remarks, "An incredible change has occurred – especially in our Hebrew and level of self-confidence. We have new friends who helped and supported each other but, most important, we now have a hope of making it in Israel!"
Written by: Arnie Bendor
Photos by: Leon Levitas