This year's OTZMA volunteers who spent two months at Youth Aliyah villages included Tova Serkin. The 23 year-old Harvard graduate in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Brooklyn, New York described her time at Ramat Hadassah Szold as "a great experience."
"It was encouraging to see how much Israel does do to help these children realize their potential," she observes. "It was wonderful to meet Israelis from such diverse backgrounds – Ethiopians, Russians and native Israelis and it was marvelous for my Hebrew." Serkin returns to Washington D.C. after a year in Israel to become Bronfman Fellow at the Hillel International Center.
Roni Ben-David from Louisville, Kentucky was a volunteer at Hadassah Neurim. The 22 year-old history graduate from North Western University in Chicago only wishes she could have spent more time at the youth village. "I was nervous that because of their poor backgrounds the kids would give me a hard time and not accept me," she explained. "But I needn’t have worried. They were so warm and they shared their frustrations and hopes with me."
Returning to the US, Ben-David wants to help promote Israel and is looking for a job in advocacy.
Youth Aliyah places great emphasis on bringing together young adults from Israel and the Diaspora and the promotion of volunteering at the residential villages where every extra hand is a welcome blessing.
Tamuz 5763 - July 2003