Personal_Betina_Schnaid_main_NewThe Jewish Agency for Israel ©, Margot Saffer

“I was representing a country made from people who came here with a dream”

"I was the first exchange student at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, and that year in Jerusalem changed my life. I had fallen in love with the people and the way of life. 
I eventually sold my successful business and invested the money as a down-payment for my Aliyah. I moved to Jerusalem and enrolled in Ulpan Etzion with other immigrants who had academic backgrounds, and took my Hebrew studies very seriously.

Two months into my Aliyah, I found out that my brother had been diagnosed with cancer. We were on Skype 24/7 for the next six weeks. I was 'with' him when he died. But it was he who gave me the strength to persist. He said: Don't move back. This was your dream. This is what you can do for me."

Betina Schnaid from Londrina, Brazil / Ulpan Etzion, Jerusalem


What did you gain most from your Aliyah?

Being an olah chadasha gave me opportunities that I would never have had in Brazil. The courage it took to move to Israel pushed me to think about fulfilling other dreams.

How did Israel impact your artistic career?

I was the first exchange student at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. Just being, here made me a better artist, but also made me know that I would make Israel my home.

What hardships did you encounter in Brazil?

In Londrina, Brazil, there were no other Jews for 500km around we worked hard to maintain our Judaism.

Art and design in Israel is at a very high level—being here made me a better artist

"As an immigrant, artists can receive a grant from the Ministry of Absorption. When I got a call from the Ministry inviting me to present to a panel in six days' time, I remembered what my brother said, and went out and bought a big canvas. I painted day and night. It was amazing! I won a monetary award and the prestigious title of "Outstanding Artist". This gave me the confidence to hold my own solo show in Jerusalem, only a year after my Aliyah. Three months later, in January 2013, I was chosen to represent Israel at the first edition of the London Art Biennale. I felt so proud, not only that my work was being showcased, but that I was representing Israel." In London, I was not just representing Israel; I was representing a new life in a new country, but an old dream that came true.

Betina Schnaid